The Astral Planes - The Higher Summerlands

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Last revised: 11 Apr. 2011

Contents

A World of Constant Learning

A Typical Day
Schools and Universities or Halls of Learning
”Temples of Learning”
Our Ability to Study
Different Ways of Studying
Libraries or “Halls of Literature”
Books
”Museums”
Perceiving Other Periods of Earth’s History
Art in the Astral World
Art Galleries
Art Schools
Music in the Spirit World
The Study of Music
The Hall of Music
Music Libraries
Music Schools
Musical Instruments
Musical Concerts
Dramatic Theatres
The Benefits of Learning
Approachability
Recreation
Transmission of Information
No Radio
No Newspapers

The Joy of Living!

How Can You Realize Our Life?
Sense of Aliveness and Humour
Sense of Safety and Supportiveness
Absence of Earthly Problems and Suffering
Absence of Fear
Absence of Loneliness
Absence of Depression
Absence of Compulsion
Absence of Discord
New Opportunities
Temporary Indulgence of the New Arrival
Socializing
”Races” Exist and Co-Exist in the Summerlands
But National Groups Tend to Cluster
Mixing of Eras
Interest in Earth Wanes
Relevance of “Trivial” Details

Relationships and Sexuality on the Spirit Planes

Relationships Can be Closer Than on Earth
We are No Longer Relatives
Marriages May or May Not Continue
Sex is Replaced by a Merging
Gender is Less Important than on Earth

Spiritual Experiences

Regaining Past-Life Knowledge on the Astral Plane
Intimations of Ecstatic Moments of Enlightenment
An Encounter with a Saint
Seeking Guidance from Above

Preparing to Ascend

Visits to Higher Realms
Pondering Leaving the Astral
Contact with Earth Not Easy Past the Summerlands
People who Live in Two Realms
Sloughing Off the Astral
The Astral Body Fights Back


A World of Constant Learning

A Typical Day

You want me to give you details of a typical day of my life? You know there is no time here—that is only a limitation of the earthplane— so we will make it a day by your calculations, and suppose we begin at midnight, for that is when I come for you.

You know, for I have often told you, how when your body sleeps your soul comes over here and we spend hours together, you have sometimes dimly remembered things that happened as in a dream. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 45.)

When it is time for you to return I take you back and then go home for a rest. I bathe in the lake, and, refreshed, go either to earth again to help on the battlefield, or if I am not required for that I go on with my study of psychic laws.

After this, it would now be your afternoon, I have some recreation and amuse myself; later I go to look up friends on earth. On other days I listen to music, which is beautiful here beyond description: it thrills one. You know I used not to care very much about it on earth before I came over. /

Occasionally I talk to most interesting people, men who were noted on earth and left their mark there as great statesmen, scholars, poets, musicians, teachers, etc. There, of course, I should never have known them — differences of age, wealth, position, etc., would have made it impossible — but here there are no artificial barriers, and a community of interest is a sufficient bond of friendship. / …

Meanwhile, life is very happy here and full of interest; even the grief and pain of those you love and have left behind does not affect one in the old way, for one can see beyond the trouble of the day and know it is only for a little while. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 48-50.)

Schools and Universities or Halls of Learning

There are enormous libraries, universities, every type of creative outlet or knowledge all throughout history. Anything which the soul seeks to know, it can learn. All one has to have is the desire to learn and the belief that he can accomplish this. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 22.)

When you want to study the law and learn how it operates, you go to the Hall of Logic. There are many Halls of Knowledge and Wisdom here. You can go to any university you choose, though the lectures are all very informal; you discuss the subject with the lecturer, face to face. You can stay all day if you like; except that that could be forever, because we have no day or night here! (Mike Swain in FMW, 25.)

The school was very comfortably arranged; there was, of course, no hint of regimentation. Each student followed his own course of study independently of anyone else. He seated himself comfortably, or he went into the lovely gardens without. He began when he wanted, and he finished when he wanted, and the more he dipped into his studies the more interested and fascinated he became. I can speak from personal experience of the latter, since there is much that I have studied in the great library since my introduction to it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 54.)

“Temples of Learning”

There are teachers here who stand ready to help anyone who wishes their help in making real and deep studies in the mysteries of life—the life here, the life there, and in the remote past. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XVI.)

I know these things definitely; they are not my ideas, or "impressions," for I am taught them by teachers and guides from the higher spheres. A great many others here have been taught these things too, but they do not get the opportunity to get them through to friends on earth.

Of course, not every one who comes over here learns these things, as some are more interested and pass their time in other ways. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 74.)

There is one particularly beautiful temple where we frequently attend lectures, which are conducted by very advanced beings from a higher sphere. I use the word “lectures,” yet there is no vocal delivery, as you would understand it. I will try to give you an account of what actually takes place.

It is, as you have guessed, the Lodge of the Golden Lotus, where Donald spends so much of his time, and this temple is, we are told, a reflection from the Spheres of Light. It has been created in meditation by those in this sphere who are attuned to the Brotherhood of Light. Its great golden dome dominates the landscape and, when power is being poured down to it from the higher spheres, its surrounding courtyard and beautiful gardens appear to have been dipped in pure gold. The cherished “temple flowers” have a golden hue, as Donald has often told you, and give off an exquisite perfume.

There are no organized meetings or services in this temple, as there are in the orthodox churches here. Anyone is at liberty to seek its sanctuary for meditation at any time and it is never empty; in fact, whenever we go, it is packed to capacity.

The earnest thoughts of those who seek enlightenment attract the attention of the Masters who come to give their aid and encouragement. These visitors are not always visible to the congregation, though they are, sometimes, seen by some and not by others. But their presence is invariably felt by all.

These teachers have the ability to contact the individual thoughts of the seekers and, from them, build up a theme of instruction which brings enlightenment to the whole audience. … This temple is also a great power-house for directing enlightenment to the earth. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 42.)

There are many centres of radiation on your earth that are sustained by the power from this beautiful temple of pure thought; their influence is gradually spreading, as more and more people open their minds to the outpouring of Divine Wisdom. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 43.)

Our Ability to Study

Gifts, talents and faculties which people had in your world do not end with death. Death brings them greater freedom and the extended opportunities to express those talents. (Silver Birch, SBA, 65.)

'What have you been doing all these years?' "Oh, at first just study and recreation, just getting acquainted. Then more study, an acquiring of knowledge with such ease that study became a delight. And so the years have passed; pleasure, study, work for others, and through it all an ever increasing pleasure. This is life as we know it here." (Grace Gordon who transitioned in early childhood in LHH, 60.)

This was my first experience of the new life. Afterward came the desire to fit myself into the wonderful surroundings; and studies were suggested. Studies? Why, pleasures, I should say! For thought is so quick here that study is the wrong name.

  Then came moving from place to place, growing acquainted with other spirits. And though I have not risen very high in heavenly learning, I am thrilled with new power and look forward to an eternity of knowledge, growth and happiness. (Unnamed spirit communicator in LHH, 44.)

Although we have taken one step forward in our transition from the earth life, we are still seeking individual development, as we can progress only according to the degree of our awakened consciousness, either mentally or spiritually.

There are many here who devote their entire energies to learning. There are so many fascinating branches of study to which one’s time can be devoted and we are taught that our efforts here open up new fields of progress for the earth as well. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 43.)

It is amazing to discover how little mental energy we actually expended during our lives in earth.

As I see it now, the earth life is more of an emotional experience than anything else, as for the majority of people, real mental development commences after transition. I am speaking now of the ordinary man-in-the-street, to which group the majority of us belong. There are, of course, many others who had, while yet on earth, studied along special lines and, here, they continue to expand their knowledge of these subjects if it is their desire to do so.

But, as I say, most of us arrive here with only a smattering of general knowledge acquired during our earth lives and we are thrilled to discover the fascinating opportunities of this plane for specialized study. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 44.)

The assimilation of knowledge is much easier here, for we seemed to have acquired another faculty, awareness. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 44.)

Education is not the tedious affair it is on earth. Knowledge is absorbed without undue effort. The mind retains the impression it has received. (Phyllis McLean in LFM, 92.)

[I am] studying, … only it seems like play, it is so easy. Oh, you don't know yet the ease with which we can advance in learning. We are supposed to have left our brains in the coffin along with our bodies. But something has taken their place, and of such infinite improvement, I cannot describe it. Only there is no effort in acquiring knowledge:—you just want it, and it comes! You will never know a thousandth part of this life, for all the pages and pages and pages that have been written, until you come. Then, oh, then! Happiness and more happiness. (Spirit communicator “A.H.” to Charlotte E. Dresser in LHH, 51.)

Afterward came the desire to fit myself into the wonderful surroundings; and studies were suggested. Studies? Why, pleasures, I should say! For thought is so quick here that study is the wrong name. (Unnamed spirit communicator in LHH, 44.)

Of course, when we are in the spirit world, our memories are persistently retentive. When we follow a course of study in any subject whatsoever, we shall find that we learn easily and quickly because we are freed from the limitations that the physical body imposes upon the mind. If we are acquiring knowledge we shall retain that knowledge without fail. If we are following some pursuit where dexterity of the hands is required, we shall find that our spirit bodies respond to the impulses of our minds immediately and exactly. To learn to paint a picture or to play upon a musical instrument, to mention two familiar mundane activities, are tasks which can be performed in a fraction of the time that they would take when we are incarnate. …

We are not all endowed with keen intellects the moment we shake off the physical body. If that were the case, these realms would be inhabited by supermen and superwomen and we are very far from that! But our intelligence can be increased; that is part of our progression, for progression is not only of a spiritual nature. Our minds have unlimited resources for intellectual expansion and improvement, however backward we may be when we come into the spirit world. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 54.)

The Benefits of Learning

'Dee, I was thinking today of the advance you have made since you have been on that side; how your conversation and communications come with so much firmness and conviction. You have grown much, I am sure.' "I know that I have more knowledge; I feel that I have more power; I am certain I have many loyal friends. Who could help gaining confidence with this backing? We feel that all the more we have a duty to perform. As leaders of this circle, we feel that we must be able to guide them aright. We are studying and learning all the time, and the old saying, ‘knowledge is power,’ has much truth." (Spirit control Dee to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 99.)

Different Ways of Studying

Knowledge is always the goal here for those who have come to know what spirit life really means. But knowledge has to be sought; it is not to be picked up like wild fruit in the forest. It is here in abundance, but we do not always know where to find it. We each have our own desires. Some incline to one study, some to another. If a student makes some discovery, it is heralded abroad so that others can get the benefit. But before such discovery can be made, there is much preparation in the way of reading, attending lectures, and in conversation with other students.

  If a class wishes to follow an entirely new line of study or thought, they usually induce some advanced spirit to outline a course of study for them. In following this it is surprising to see the different methods that the members of the class will adopt. Some are for reading all that has ever been written on each small phase of the subject. Some try to post themselves on just the main features. Others decide to only glance at it and run to something more to their liking. All are free to do as they please. There are no class rules laid down by some authority. As a consequence the class, which may have been quite uniform at the beginning, will before long be in all stages of advancement on the subject.

You can see from this that we are constantly changing, constantly meeting other students, constantly finding new angles to the study. We do not study all the time though. You must not think of our world as a university where each is striving to outdo the others and gain honors in some scholarship. Life is far different from that. I am only describing the study part. We all have our lighter moments, some more than others, to be sure, but no one studies every moment of the time. (Unnamed spirit teacher in LHH, 261-2.)

Q: Do people read, watch TV, go to movies?

A: Yes, and we have far superior “TV” than you do on the earth plane. If we choose to watch the things which are happening on the earth plane, we can merely push a button to see anything that’s going on in any city, in any state, in any part of the world. We can watch the world turn, literally.

A: What do you mean “push a button”? It sounds like these are mechanical devices.

We have a vast kind of computer system here which enables many of the lower souls on the astral plane (1) to gain any knowledge which they want at any time. They have only to push a button, ask a question, and this is flashed instantly on what you would term a movie or a TV screen. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 24.)

(1) The spirit teacher has advanced past the Astral Plane and is referring to residents of that “lower” plane.

Libraries or “Halls of Literature”

When we first come to the astral plane, we can study in libraries which are very much like the libraries we have on earth. It is very important that these should be here for, if one were transported after death into completely new surroundings, the sense of continuity would be broken. I want to stress again that the astral world is almost a replica of your world, except that it is of a finer substance. Therefore, as we have pointed out before, on the astral plane we continue to practice many of the modes of living we carried out on earth.

We have books that would seem to be exactly like the books on earth. As long as we think we need books, we may go to a library, look through the catalogues in the stands, go to the shelves, and find the correct book. There are librarians here, still doing the same work. We also have museums and art galleries here which contain replicas of the great art of the ages, and some people still find a need to study in those places.

However the time comes when you no longer want to go around in a regular library and get information in this way. Your own thinking and your own progress give you a desire to get information a quicker way. We can then go to memory-bank reference libraries, which contain records of everything that has ever happened. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 86.)

There were three ways in which I could rapidly secure information in the memory-bank reference libraries. I could see it on a screen; I could hear explanatory comments; and I could have it recorded in written form for later reading. … The visual and sound portions could also be recorded for later use. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 88.)

Not only do we have copies of earthly books upon the shelves, but there are also volumes that have their source solely in spirit, By this, I mean that such books have no counterpart on earth. Included among them are works concerning spirit life alone, the facts of life here, and spiritual teachings written by authorities who have an infallible knowledge of their subject and who reside in the higher spheres. There are also the histories of nations and events, with the facts set down in strict accordance with the absolute truth written by men who now find that equivocation is impossible. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 118.)

This was the hall of literature, and it contained every work worthy of the name. … To anyone who has a knowledge of earthly history, the volumes with which the shelves of this section of the great library were filled would prove illuminating. The reader would be able to gain, for the first time, the truth about the history of his country. Every word contained in these books was the literal truth, Concealment is impossible, because nothing but truth can enter these realms. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 47.)

I have made another discovery that for the first time left me astounded. I found that side by side with the statements of pure fact of every act by persons of historical note, by statesmen in whose hands was the government of their countries, by kings who were at the head of some of those countries, side by side with such statements was the blunt naked truth of each and every motive governing or underlying their numerous acts – the truth beyond disputation.

Many of such motives were elevated, many, many of them were utterly base; many were misconstrued, many distorted. Written indelibly upon these spirit annals were the true narratives of thousands upon thousands of human beings, who, whilst upon their earthly journey, had been active participants in the affairs of their country. Some were victims to others’ treachery and baseness. None was spared, none omitted. It was all there for all to see – the truth, with nothing extenuated, nothing suppressed.

These records had no respect for persons, whether it be king or commoner, churchman or layman. The writers had just set down the veridical story as it was. It required no adornment, no commentary. It spoke for itself. And I was profoundly thankful for one thing – that this truth had been kept from us until such time as we stood where we were now standing, when our minds would, in some measure, be prepared for revelations such as were here at hand. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 48.)

Who … writes the book of truth in spirit? The author of the earthly volume writes it – when he comes into the spirit world. And he is glad to do it. It becomes his work, and by such he can gain the progress of his soul. He will have no difficulty with the facts, / for they are here for him to record, and he records them – but the truth this time! There is no need to dissemble – in fact, it would be useless. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 49-50.)

The other day I asked my Teacher to show me the archives in which those who had lived out here had recorded their observations, if such existed. He said:

    "You were a great reader of books when you were on the earth. Come."

    We entered a vast building like a library, and I caught my breath in wonder. It was not the architecture of the building which struck me, but the quantities of books and records. There must have been millions of them.

    I asked the Teacher if all the books were here. He smiled and said:

    "Are there not enough? You can make your choice."

    I asked if the volumes were arranged by subjects.

    "There is an arrangement," he answered. "What do you want?"

    I said that I should like to see the books in which were written the accounts of explorations which other men had made in this (to me) still slightly known country.

    He smiled again, and took from a shelf a thick volume. It was printed in large black type.

    "There is a signature," he replied.

    I looked at the end and saw the signature: it was that used by Paracelsus.

    "When did he write this?"

    "Soon after he came out." It was written between his Paracelsus life and his next one on earth."

    The book which I had opened was a treatise on spirits, human, angelic, and elemental. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XIV.)

Books

There are books, but of quite different kind from yours. (Unnamed spirit communicator in SRE, 54.)

There are many, many books [in the spirit world]. There is a duplicate of every book known to your / world, and there are many other volumes of which there are no originals in your world. There are vast halls or buildings dedicated to all the arts, and literature has its place among them. It is possible to obtain knowledge of any subject in which you are interested. (Silver Birch, SBA, 67.)

I was talking at one time through the pencil (1) with my father. I felt that he would get great pleasure in the wonderful opportunities for knowledge, and he assured me that this was so, and spoke of the great libraries there:

"You will never be happier than when you see the wonderful libraries and the wonderful knowledge expressed in them. Different from earth libraries, but the word may express what I mean."

'Can you give us any impression of how knowledge is thus stored?'

"It is all so intangible to your way of expression, I do not know that I can describe it. But if you can picture wireless telegraphy as impressing itself in words than can be read,—if you can think of thought expressing / itself almost simultaneously, flashing itself on pages, perhaps you can get an idea of the way books are formed.

There are such great minds here, and the greatest of earth's writers find their powers so exalted and so easily expressed, that books may appear without labor. We have libraries, and there are books and books, and knowledge, comes easily to those who seek. Clairvoyance might express it somewhat,—an illumination that presents the thought without effort. This on the part of the reader. The writer gives his thought inspirationally, and the words are transferred to the page without effort.

"Something like this. I cannot give any more definite description in your language."

Later Mary contributed a little to the subject as follows:

"We have books, or the spirit counterpart of books. They are composed of etheric substance, but can be read by spirit sight, and enjoyed by the students and teachers here. They are not quite as earth books are, but are still something within the touch and sight of spirit, and can be read at any time. How could we store up the histories of worlds or the progress of other planet life if we only saw the present? Our teachers of history are wonderful in their learning and their memory, but they prepare the lessons given to others from the books that are within the reach of all in the libraries here." (Medium Charlotte Dresser’s father and spirit control Mary Bosworth in SWSL, 76-7.)

(1) I.e., through automatic writing.

One can read books, but in a swift, all in-taking way impossible to explain. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 107.) I was reading your book with you just now, but it’s an irritating process for I get the gist of a page and see, as it were, the whole before your physical eyes have read half of one. (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 176.)

We have our methods of printing, but they are totally unlike those of the earth. We have our experts, who are also artists at their work, and it is work they love doing, or else they would not be doing it. The method of reproduction here is wholly a process of the mind, as with all else, and author and printer work together in complete harmony. The books that result from this close cooperation are works of art, they are beautiful creations which, apart altogether from their literary contents, are lovely to look upon. …

The books thus produced are not dead things that require a concentration of the whole mind upon them. They live just as much as the paintings we saw were living. To pick up a book and begin reading it meant also to perceive with the mind, in a way not possible on earth, the whole story as it was being told, whether it be history or science, or the arts. The book, once taken in hand by the reader, instantly responds, in very much the same way as the flowers respond when one approaches close to them. The purpose is different of course. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 49-50.)

“Museums”

[Spirit] museums were in the halls or buildings of learning where there are collections of varying kinds, of objects relating to earthly life throughout history, and also collections of interesting forms of spiritual life. For example, we have flowers that have not bloomed on earth. We have many / other phases of natural life unknown to you. There are examples of these in the halls of learning. (Silver Birch, SBA, 64-5.)

It may be thought that what we had seen as yet were nothing more than celestial museums, containing, it is true, magnificent specimens not to be seen upon earth, but museums nevertheless. Now earthly museums are rather cheerless places. They have an aroma of mustiness and chemical preservatives, since their exhibits have to be protected from deterioration and decay. And they have to be protected from man, too, by uninspiring glass cases. But here there are no restrictions.

All things within these halls are free and open for all to see and hold in the two hands. There is no mustiness, but all the beauty of the objects themselves sends out many subtle perfumes, while the light of heaven streams in from all quarters to enhance the glories of man’s handicrafts. No, these are no museums; very far from it. They are temples, rather, in which we spirit people are conscious of the eternal thanks that we owe to the Great Father for giving us such unbounded happiness in a land of which so many upon earth deny the reality. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 51-2.)

[The Hall of Evolution:] In the centre was a large structure and this we entered and found ourselves in a large and spacious hall, the only compartment in the place. It was circular in shape and round the walls were carvings of a curious kind. We examined them and found that they were representations of the heavenly bodies; and one was the earth. But they were not fixed, but turned on pivots, half in and half out of the wall. There were also models of animals and tress and human beings, but they were all movable, / and stood on pedestals in niches or alcoves. We inquired and were told that this was a purely scientific Institution.

We were taken up to a balcony on one side of the circular space. It projected somewhat and so we could see the whole at once. Then we were told that a small demonstration would be made for our benefit in order that we might get some idea of the use to which these things were put.

At length a blue mist began to fill the central space. Then a ray of light swept round the hall and rested on the globe which represented the earth. As it hovered about it the sphere appeared to absorb the ray and became luminous, and, after a time, the ray being withdrawn, we saw the earth globe was shining as if from within. Then another ray was sent on to it of a deeper and different kind and the globe slowly left the pedestal, or pivot, or whatever it rested on and began to float out from the wall.

As it approached the centre of the space it entered the blue mist and immediately on contact began to enlarge until it became a great sphere glowing with its own light and floating in the blue space. It was exceedingly beautiful. Slowly, very slowly, it revolved on its own axis, evidently in the same way the earth does and we were able to see the oceans and continents. These were flat patterns, like those on the terrestrial globes used on earth. But as it revolved they began to assume a different aspect.

The mountains and hills began to stand out and the waters to sway and ripple: and presently we saw minute models of the cities, and even details of the buildings. And still more detailed grew the model of the earth till we could see the people themselves, first the crowds and then the individuals. This will be hard for you to understand, that on a globe of some perhaps eighty to a hundred feet in diameter we are able to see individual men and animals. But that is part of the science of this institution – the enabling of these details being seen individually.

Still more distinct grew these wonderful scenes, and, as the globe revolved, we saw men hurrying about the cities and working in the fields. We saw the wide spaces of prairie and desert and forest and the animals roaming in them. And as the globe slowly circled we saw the oceans and the seas, some placid and the others tossing and roaring, and here and there a ship. And all the life of earth passed before our eyes…. Soon the scenes began to change on the revolving sphere and we were taken back thousands of years of the life of the earth and the generations of men and animals and plant life which had been from the present to the ages when men were just emerging from the forest to settle in colonies on the plains. … When we had satisfied our eyes for a while, the globe gradually became smaller and smaller and floated back to the niche in the wall and then the light faded out from it and it looked like an alabaster carving, just as we had seen it at first, set there as an ornament. …

The animals about the walls were also used for a like purpose. One would be vivified by these powerful rays and / brought into the centre of the hall. When so treated it could walk of itself like a live animal, which it was temporarily and in a certain restricted way. When it had ascended a platform in the centre space, then it was treated with the enlarging rays – as I may call them, not knowing their scientific name – and then with others which rendered it transparent and all the internal organisms of the animal became plainly visible to the students assembled.

Then it was possible to bring over the living model a change so that it began to evolve backwards- or should I say ‘involve’? – towards its simpler and primal state as a mammal, and so on. The whole structural history of the animal was shown in that life-like process. … Also it was possible for any student to take charge and continue the development according to his own idea and this not of the animals alone, but of the heavenly bodies and also of nations and peoples, which are dealt with in another hall, however, specially adapted to that study. (The mother of G. Vale Owens quoted in Lord Dowding, MM, 57-9.)

Perceiving Other Periods of Earth’s History

To each human being his shadow, to each earthly event and scene a shadow or recorded image. Before the traveller in eternity rises to the Fourth level of consciousness, (1) he surveys this memoried life of earth. Vast are the panoramas that extend before his vision. His sensitive perceptions may now register all the loveliness of the Renaissance period in Italy, all the cruelties and brutalities of the wars that ravaged Europe during mediaeval times. He enters the Greek world and may seek - if he is of a philosophic turn of mind - Socrates, Plato, Plotinus, all imaged within this memory, and still instructing the earnest young men of their period. But he is immediately aware of the different order of these perceived objects. They are automatic, without life in the sense that no souls dominate these scenes that at first pass one by one before the vision of the observer.

None the less, when observing the images graven in the Great Memory, he becomes rapt, absorbed, caught in the excitement of the spectacle, in the strangeness and amazing character of this extensive drama. His own nature casts off its limitations; mind and feeling become fertilised, increasing in intensity and in power. The traveller journeying back to the Stone Age and even farther still, to the Ice Age, may suddenly wheel forward noting the germ of things and events that are yet to be. For already within the Imagination of God lies enshrined the conception of the whole future of the planet Earth down to the most infinitesimal detail. In this manner the traveller is permitted a glimpse of the scenes contained in this vast book of life before he proceeds further along his road in eternity.

As Christ was taken to a high place and surveyed from it all the kingdoms of the earth, so the pilgrim has been led to that pinnacle within the group-soul from which he may perceive the history of the earth extending apparently illimitably. Yet, as he increases in perception, his power to see the whole of a period in time as one act of thought increases also, and a century of eventful happenings may be grasped thus, in, as it were, one single and all embracing glance.

Truly the traveller has emerged from the dark womb of earth and knows it now in detail and as a whole. (F.W.H. Myers, BHP, n.d.)

The Fourth Plane is the first subplane of the Mental Plane or the “First Heaven.”

Art in the Astral World

I think the happiest people I have met on this side have been the painters. Our matter is so light and subtle, and so easily handled, that it falls readily into the forms of the imagination. There are beautiful pictures here. Some of our artists try to impress their pictures upon the mental eyes of the artists of earth, and they often succeed in doing so. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XVI.)

Another great point of dissimilarity [between are on earth and in the spirit world] – and the most important – was the fact that here all these pictures were alive. It is impossible to convey any idea of this paramount difference. These spirit pictures must be seen here to understand it. I can only just suggest an idea. These pictures, then, whether landscape or portrait, were never flat; that is, they did not seem to have been painted upon flat canvas. They possessed, on the other hand, all the completeness of relief. The subject stood forth almost as though it were a model – a model whereof one could take hold of all the elements that went to the making up of the subject of the picture. One felt that the shadows were real shadows cast by real objects. The colors glowed with life, even among the very early works before much progress had been made. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 46.)

'Do you have pictures?'

"Pictures are used to illustrate many different studies; but these are more evanescent thoughts thrown forward pictorially to illustrate something in the lesson."

'Do you have no permanent pictures?'

"Pictures are painted by artists here as they are on earth, only with different canvas and color. But once painted, they can remain until replaced by others, or until the artists themselves erase them." (Unnamed spirit communicator in SWSL, 60.)

"Art is a big subject here, for it embraces all beauty, as well as all combinations of beautiful material. The beauty of art is the beauty of production; and you must remember that the natural beauty you love on earth, is here one of the arts of this life. Scenery, mountain, stream, forest, vale, and hill; beautiful homes, beautiful statuary, paintings, libraries; and even the colors and the garments we wear, and the dresses we fashion, are all in the way of art.

"Can you see what art means in this spirit life, when the touch of spirit, like a fairy wand, can create the most marvelous beauty and the finest adornments? We can call them into being and preserve them as we choose, and can scatter them to make way for other beauty.

"This all takes study. Each and every one is a class, a school, a craft by itself, and the students of that craft or school prepare themselves by education in the ways necessary for each work." (Unnamed spirit communicator in SWSL, 68.)

Art Galleries

The first hall Edwin took us into was concerned with the art of painting. The hall was of very great size and contained a long gallery, on the walls of which were hanging every great masterpiece known to man. They were arranged in such a way that every step of earthly progress could be followed in proper order, beginning with the earliest times and so continuing down to the present day. Every style of painting was represented, gathered from all points of the earth. It must not be thought that such a collection as we were now viewing is only of interest and service to people who have a full appreciation and understanding of the painter’s art. Such could not be farther from the case. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 45.)

A number of … pictures I recognized as I had seen their ‘originals’ in the earth’s galleries. Ruth and I were astonished when Edwin told us that what we had seen in those galleries were not the originals at all. We were now seeing the originals for the first time. What we had seen was an earthly counterpart, which was perishable from the usual causes – for example, from fire or the general disintegration through the passage of time. But here we were viewing the direct results of the thoughts of the painter, created in the etheric before he actually transferred those thoughts to his earthly canvas. It could be plainly observed, in many cases, where the earthly picture fell short of that which the painter had in his mind. He had endeavored to reproduce his exact conception, but through physical limitations this exact conception had eluded him. In some instances it had been the pigments that had been at fault when, in the early times, the artist had been unable to procure or evolve the particular shade of color he wanted. But though he lacked physically, his mind had known precisely what he wished to do. He had built it up in the spirit – the results of which we were now able to see – while he had failed to do so on the material canvas. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 45-6.)

Art Schools

In other parts of the same building were rooms wherein students of art could learn all there is to be learned. The joy of these students is great in their freedom from their earthly restrictions and bodily limitations. Here instruction is easy, and the acquisition and application of knowledge equally facile to those who wish to learn. Gone are all the struggles of the student in the surmounting of earthly difficulties both of the mind and of the hands, and progress towards proficiency is consequently smooth and rapid. The happiness of all the students whom we saw itself spread happiness to all who beheld it, for there is not limits to their endeavours when that bugbear of earthly life – fleeting time – and all the petty vexations of the mundane existence have been abandoned for ever. Is there any wonder that artists within this hall, and, indeed, in every other hall in the city, were enjoying the golden hours of their spiritual reward? (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 47.)

Music in the Spirit World

Music is an endless source of pleasure to all dwellers in this sphere, and, indeed, it could not be otherwise for all nature contributes an underlying melody. Flowers here have not only colour and perfume, but sound as well. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 44.)

Our potentialities for music of the highest order are immeasurably greater than are yours on the earth-plane. The mind of a spirit person who has a deep love of music will naturally hear more, because he so wishes, than one who cares little for it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 113.)

In music it can be said that the spirit world starts where the earth world leaves off. There are laws of music here which have no application to the earth whatever because the earth is neither sufficiently progressed on the one hand, and on the other because the spirit world is of spirit, while the earth world is of matter. It is doubtful of the earth-plane will ever become ethereal enough to hear many of the forms of spirit music in the higher realms. Innovations have been tried, so I have been told, on the earth-plane, but the result is not only barbaric, but childish as well. Earthly ears are not attuned to music that is essentially of the spirit realms. By some strange chance earth people have essayed to produce such music on the earth-plane. It will never do – until the ears of those incarnate have undergone a fundamental alteration. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 65.)

In the spirit world all music is color, and all color is music. The one is never existent without the other. That is why the flowers give forth such pleasant tones when they are approached…. The water that sparkles and flashes colors is also creating musical sounds of purity and beauty. … The sounds are in perfect accord with the colors, as the colors are with the sounds. And the perfect combination of both sight and sound is perfect harmony. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 70.)

The whole attitude to music held by so many people of the earth undergoes a great change when they eventually come to spirit. Music is looked upon by many on the earth-plane as merely a pleasant diversion, a pleasant adjunct to earthly life, but by no means a necessity. Here it is part of our life, not because we make it so, but because it is part of natural existence, as are flowers and trees, grass and water, and hills and dales. It is an element of spiritual nature. Without it a vast deal of the joy would depart out of our lives. We do not need to become master-musicians to appreciate the wealth of music that surrounds us in color and sound, but as is in so many other features of this life, we accept and enjoy to the full, and in the enjoyment of our heritage we can afford to smile at those who persist in believing that we live in a world of emptiness. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 70-1.)

A world of emptiness! What a shock so many people have upon their coming into the spirit world, and how immensely glad and relieved they are to find that it turns out quite pleasant after all; that it is not a terrifying place; that it is not one stupendous temple of hymn-singing religion; and that they are able to feel at home in the land of their new life. When this joyful realization has come to them some of the are reminded that they looked upon the various descriptions of this life, that have come from us from time to time, as rather material and how pleased they are to discover that it is so. What is it, if not material? The musicians that we heard playing were playing upon very real, solid instruments from very real music. The conductor was a real person, conducting his orchestra with a very material baton! But the beautiful musical thought-form was not so very material as were its surroundings or the means to create it, in just the same relative way that as an earthly rainbow, and the sun and moisture that cause it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 71.)

The Study of Music

I am at present deeply interested in music. There is a vast spiritual significance in the rhythm of sound, which I am at present only on the fringe of understanding. But the little I have learnt has been a great revelation to me. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 44.)

I found that the greater the knowledge of music the more it helped one to understand so many things of the life here, where music plays so important a part. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 64.)

The Hall of Music

There are actually ‘buildings’ of a very aerial cloud-castle nature. It is wonderful: in the hall of music, vast domes and amphitheatres, receding endlessly from the view, seem to blend with the sound, as it issues form the performers’ instruments. For most of them play instruments, just as real to us as earth ones are to you – but the most advanced entities, whom one rarely sees, seem to give out music like a ray. One absorbs it and blends with it, just as in your mind, a tune will remain all day. That is real to you, isn’t it – that mental music? (Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 238.)

[In the hall of music] the advanced musical adepts – such as Beethoven – have thought-created all forms and ways of creating music.

(Philip to his mother, Alice Gilbert, in PTW, 238.)

Music Libraries

The hall of music followed the same broad system as the other halls of the arts. The library contained books dealing with music as well as the scores of vast quantities of music that had been written on earth by composers who had now passed into spirit, or by those who were still upon the earth. What are called upon earth ‘master-works’ were fully represented among the musical scores upon the shelves, and I was interested to learn that there was hardly a work that had not since been altered by the composer himself since coming into spirit. … The [music] library provided a complete history of music from the very earliest times, and those who were able to read music – not necessarily instrumentally, but with a familiarity of what the printed notes indicated – were enabled to see before them the great strides that the art had made during the ages. Progression, it seems, has been slow, as in other arts, and freakish forms of expression have obtruded themselves. Needless to say the latter are not entertained here for reasons connected with those that inspire composers to alter their works after passing here.

Also contained in the library were so many of those books and musical works that have long since disappeared from earthly sight, or else are very scarce and so beyond the reach of so many folk. The musical antiquary will find all those things that he has sighed for on earth, but which have been denied him, and here he can consult, freely, works that, because of their preciousness, would never be allowed into his hands on earth. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 64-5.)

Music Schools

Many apartments were set aside for students who can learn music in every branch, from theory to practice, under teachers whose names are known the earth world over. Some there are, perhaps, who would think that such famous people would not give their time to the teaching of simple forms of music to simple lovers of music. But it must be remembered, as with the painters, composers have a different [appraisal] of the fruits of their brains after passing into spirit. In common with us all here, they see things exactly as they are – including their compositions. They find, too, that the music of the spirit world is very different in outward results from music performed on earth. Hence they discover that their musical knowledge must undergo sweeping changes in many cases before they can begin to express themselves musically. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 65.)

Musical Instruments

The many types of musical instruments so familiar on earth were to be seen in the college of music where students could be taught to play upon them. And here again, where dexterity of the hands is so essential, the task of gaining proficiency is never arduous or wearisome, and it is, moreover, so much more rapid than upon the earth. As students acquire a mastery over their instrument they can join one of the many orchestras that exist here, or they can limit their performance of their many friends. It is not by any means surprising that many prefer the former because they can help to produce, in concert with their fellow musicians, the tangible effects of music upon a larger scale when so many more can enjoy such effects. We were extremely interested in the many instruments that have no counterpart upon the earth-plane. They are, for the most part, specially adapted to the forms of music that are exclusive to the spirit world, and they are for that reason very much more elaborate. Such instruments are only played with others of their kind for their distinctive music. For that which is common to the earth, the customary instrument is sufficient. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 65-6.)

Musical Concerts

Concerts are always available because there are so many musicians, many of them masters, whose desire is that their talents should be enjoyed by the largest possible number. (Silver Birch, SBA, 65.)

[The] concert hall … was a very large hall capable of seating comfortably many thousands. It was circular in shape, with seats rising in an unbroken tier from the floor. There is, of course, no real necessity for such a hall to be under cover, but the practice merely follows others in this realm – our own dwelling-houses, for example. We do not really need those, but we like them, we have grown used to them while upon earth, and so we have them. …

At the rear of the hall was the great center of concert performances. It consisted of a vast amphitheater like a great bowl sunk beneath the level of the ground, but it as so large that its real depth was not readily apparent. The seats that were farthest away from the performers were exactly upon ground level. Immediately surrounding these seats were masses of the most beautiful flowers of every possible hue, with a grassy space beyond, while the whole area of this outdoor temple of music was encompassed by a magnificent plantation of tall and graceful trees. Although the seating arrangements were upon such an expansive scale, much more so than would be at all practicable upon earth, yet there was no sense of being too far from the performers, even in the farthest seats. It will be recalled that our vision is not so restricted in spirit as upon earth. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 66.)

The whole place, which was empty when Edwin had first brought us in, now contained many people, some strolling about, and others, like us, seated contentedly on the grass. We were in a delightful spot, with the trees and flowers and pleasant people all about us….

Edwin told us to walk over to the theater and look down over the seats once again. … To our astonishment we found that the whole vast hall was packed with people, where there was not a soul to be seen but a short time before. The musicians were in their places awaiting the entrance of their conductor, and this great audience had arrived as if by magic – or so it seemed. … The organizers had merely to send out their thoughts to people at large who were particularly interested in such performances, and they forthwith assembled. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 67.)

The orchestra was composed of some two hundred musicians, who were playing upon instruments that are well-known to earth, so that I was able to appreciate what I heard. As soon as the music began I could hear a remarkable difference from what I had been accustomed to hear on the earth-plane. The actual sounds made by the various instruments were easily recognizable as of old, but the quality of the tone was immeasurably purer, and the balance and blend were perfect. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 67.)

We noticed that the instant the music commenced a bright light seemed to rise up from the direction of the orchestra until it floated, in a flat surface, level with the topmost seats, where it remained as an iridescent [sic] cover to the whole amphitheater. As the music proceeded this broad sheet of light grew in strength and density, forming, as it were, a firm foundation for what was to follow. So intent was I upon watching this extraordinary formation that I could scarcely tell what the music was about. I was conscious of its sound, but that was really all. Presently, at equal spaces round the circumference of the theater, four towers of light shot up into the sky in long tapering pinnacles of luminosity. They remained poised for a moment, and then slowly descended, becoming broader in girth as they did so, until they assumed the outward appearance of four circular towers, each surmounted with a dome, perfectly proportioned. In the meanwhile, the central area of light had thickened still more, and was beginning to rise slowly in the shape of an immense dome covering the whole theater.

This [light] continued to ascend steadily until it seemed to reach a very much greater height than the four towers while the most delicate colours were diffused throughout the whole of the etheric structure. I could understand now why Edwin had suggested that we should sit outside the theater proper, and I could follow, also, why composers should feel impelled to alter their earthly works after they have arrive din spirit. The musical sounds sent up by the orchestra were creating, up above their heads, this immense musical thought-form, and the shape and perfection of this form rested entirely upon the purity of the musical sounds, the purity of the harmonies, and a freedom from any pronounced dissonance. The form of the music must be pure to produce a pure form. …

By now the great musical thought-form had assumed what appeared to be its limit of height, and it remained stationary and steady. The music was still being played, and in response to it the whole coloring of the dome changed, first to one shade, then to another, and many times to a delicate blend of a number of shades according to the variation in theme or movement of the music. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 68.)

It is difficult to give any adequate idea of the beauty of this wonderful musical structure. The amphitheater being built below the surface of the ground, nothing was visible of the audience, of performers, or of the building itself, and the dome of light and color had all the appearance of resting on the same firm ground as were we ourselves.

This has taken but a brief while in the telling, but the musical thought-form occupied such time in formation as would be taken by a full-length concert on the earth-plane. We had, during the period, watched the gradual building of the outward and visible effect of music. Unlike the earth where music can only be heard there, we had both heard and seen it. And not only were we inspired by the sounds of the orchestral playing, but the beauty of the immense form it created had its spiritual influence upon all who beheld it, or came within its sphere. We could feel this although we were seated outside the theater. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 69.)

The expert musician can plan his compositions by his knowledge of what forms the various harmonic and melodic sounds will produce. He can, in effect, build magnificent edifices upon his manuscript of music, knowing full well exactly what the result will be when the music is played or sung. By careful adjustment of his themes and his harmonies, the length of the work, and its various marks of expression, he can build a majestic form as grand as a Gothic cathedral. This is, in itself, a delightful part of the musical art in spirit, and it is regarded as musical architecture. The student will not only study music acoustically, but he will learn to build it architecturally. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 69.)

Dramatic Theatres

Theatres - there are many of varying kinds. Some are used purely for dramatic purposes, others for cultural purposes, and others for educational purposes. (Silver Birch, SBA, 65.)

Each [dramatic] theater of this realm is familiar to us by the type of play that is presented in it. The plays themselves are frequently vastly different from those that are customary upon the earth-plane. We have nothing that is sordid, nor do the authors of plays insist upon harrowing their audiences. We can see many problem plays where social questions of the earth-plane are dealt with, but unlike the earth-plane our plays will provide a solution to the particular problem – a solution which the earth is too blind to accept.

We can go to see comedies where, I do assure you, the laughter is invariably much more hearty and voluminous than is ever to be heard in a theater of the earth-plane. In the spirit world we can afford to laugh at much that we once, when incarnate, treated with deadly seriousness and earnestness.

We have witnessed grand historical pageants showing the greater moments of a nation, and we have seen, too, history as it really was, and not as it is often so fancifully written about in history books! But surely the most impressive, and, at the same time, interesting experience is to be presented at one of these pageants where the original participants themselves re-enact the events in which they were concerned, first as the events were popularly thought to have occurred, and then as they actually took place. These representations are among the most widely attended here, and never are there more attentive and rapt members of the audience than those players who, during their earthly lives, played the parts, in stage plays, of the famous characters whom they are now seeing ‘in the flesh.’

In such pageants the coarser, depraved and debased incidents are omitted entirely because they would be distasteful to the audience, and, indeed, to all in this realm. Nor are we shown scenes which are, in the main incidents, nothing but battle and bloodshed and violence.

At first, one experiences a strange feeling in beholding, in person, the bearers of names famous throughout the earth world, but after a time one becomes perfectly accustomed to it, and it becomes part of our normal existence. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 147-8.)

Approachability

Edwin said that we should always be welcome should we ever wish to call upon any of the teachers. The exclusiveness which must necessarily surround such people when they are incarnate vanishes when the come into spirit. … Some have progressed to a higher realm, but they still retain their interest in their former sphere, and continuously visit it – and their many friends to pursue their teaching. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 72.)

Recreation

We do not suffer from bodily fatigue, but at the same time we do not continue endlessly at the same occupation; that would mean monotony, and there is no monotony here such as we used to endure on earth. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 54.)

In the spirit world we do not suffer fatigue either of body or mind, but to continue unremittingly in the pursuit of any one occupation, without any intermittent change, would soon produce feelings of mental dissatisfaction or unrest. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 145.)

The most noticeable difference between our two worlds, in this matter of recreations, is created by our respective requirements. We have no need here to take bodily exercise, vigorous or otherwise, nor do we need to go out into the ‘fresh air.’ Our spirit bodies are always in perfect condition, we suffer no disorders of any kind, and the air, which cannot be other than fresh, penetrates into every corner of our homes and buildings, where it full retains its purity. It would be impossible for it to become vitiated or contaminated in any way. It is to be expected, then, that our recreations should be more upon the mental plane than upon the ‘physical.’ (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 148.)

We have no changes of weather during recurrent seasons. The great central sun is forever shining; it is never anything but delightfully warm. We never feel the necessity for a brisk walk to set our blood circulating the better. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 149.)

There are such wonders in these lands that we want to know all about, there is so much congenial work to be done, that there is no cause to be cast down at the prospect of there being few of the earthly sports and pastimes in the spirit world. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 149.)

Transmission of Information

Information is constantly being dispensed to those who should have it by the ones whose occupation it is to spread these facts. This is difficult for you to understand.

When it is necessary for me to be told something that I do not know the thought is sent to me by the one who thinks I ought to know it. There are people engaged on / the task of disseminating these thoughts. They are specially trained for it. (Silver Birch, SBA, 65-6.)

When you receive inspiration it is because consciously or unconsciously you are tuned in to some intelligence in our world and, for that time, you are able to receive his power, inspiration or message. Sometimes it is conscious, sometimes it is unconscious. It depends upon the circumstances.

But in our life we are constantly receiving and transmitting thoughts who are on our spirit wavelength, that is, of like spiritual mentality, receive thoughts that we send them and transmit thoughts to us. The wavelength is determined by spiritual attainment. (Silver Birch, SBA, 65.)

No Radio

We do not have radio because communication is differently used. … Telepathy is the common method of reaching one another. But it is possible for those who know how, to address vast numbers and to reach them, even when they are not themselves present. But it does not work on the principle of your radio. (Silver Birch, SBA, 65.)

No Newspapers

There are no newspapers in your earthly sense, because there is no necessity to chronicle happenings, as you do. (Silver Birch, SBA, 65.)

The Joy of Living!

How Can You Realize Our Life?

Ye cannot picture the beauties of our spheres; the grateful odours, the lovely flowers, the scenes of gladsome delight that surround us. (1) (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MST, 49.)

(1) Imperator is speaking of spheres far higher than the astral, but his comment is germaine to the astral as well.

We can no more tell you of our life than you can convey to a deaf and dumb and blind man the true notions of your world. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MST, 49.)

Can you realize the interests that fill our lives? Variety of occupation; all forms of beauty; friendships more dear than earth can ever know; ever increasing knowledge; music such as mortals cannot conceive; all that heart can wish or mind enjoy. If the soul asks for / more, we turn to those of the next higher plane, and are given what we desire. We in turn try to help others to reach their ideals, and we are wishing now to make known to the dwellers on earth, the happy existence here, that 'death may lose its sting and the grave its victory.’

All knowledge here is acquired with ease, and all the spirit functions of sight, hearing and memory are vastly in advance of the earthly ability, and there is no limit to knowledge or happiness.

After character has been established, we study for knowledge of the earth from which we here all come, knowledge of the conditions there, and ways of improving those conditions. Then the knowledge of higher spiritual activities and the power that this knowledge gives, knowledge to be used for other lives, sometimes on earth, sometimes on other planets. After this, still increasing knowledge and still increasing power for good. Always giving out. Do not forget that knowledge is to be used for others.

The education of the soul is very complex. It has to grow in so many directions, that no one description can make it plain to you. First the sight, then the hearing. Of course these are the mediums through which knowledge is received. Then the recognition and cultivation of intuitive faculties. These are elementary and are additional methods of progress.

Then comes the study of spiritual laws; for these must be known and understood, that a newly arrived spirit may not infringe upon them. These laws have to do with the harmony of heaven and the perfect accord of millions upon millions of souls. Once these laws are understood, the newly arrived spirit may discover the infinite variety of teaching here and may select the study most adapted to his taste. This does not mean ignorance along other lines, / however, for education is harmonious and many-sided; but simply the specialty he desires most to perfect himself in. This done, his work commences, happy work and happy acquisition of knowledge. Always this specialty in view, yet with so many other sidelights, or occupations that the variety is always stimulating to new endeavor and further progress. Then his fitness for a teacher is decided upon and if he has this talent he becomes a teacher of others. There is no limit to acquisition and no limit to one's taste.

Two or three specialties often go together. [Spirit control] Mary [Bosworth] here has half a dozen. She uses these and still goes on acquiring other knowledge for her own pleasure. The one-sided person does not exist here. He would be a curiosity. (Unnamed spirit communicator in SW, 99-101.)

'If all become perfectly good, it would almost seem as though life would become monotonous?'

"We have more varieties of goodness than the mortal life can show. You will be surprised at the difference in individuals on a plane where none are perverse or wicked. Then think of the different occupations and industries, the different arts and sciences, of travel to other worlds and the wonders revealed there. Think of oratory, music, poetry, and the light and winsome touches that writers of humorous literature have brought to this side; and you will realize a little how, instead of monotony, we have infinite variety." (Spirit control Mary Bosworth in SWSL, 80.)

Sense of Aliveness and Humour

The joy of living is a phrase of which you cannot even have the barest understanding while you are yet upon the earth-plane. It is not surprising, therefore, that we should exhibit a little of that joy when we visit you on earth. Some of us, even, dare not show ourselves to you as we really are, because some folk might be shocked! There are so many people on earth who regard us from a restricted self-conscious point of view. There would seem to be a feeling of piety in the air sometimes which we are not pleased to see when we visit you. To receive us with bated breath is not a reception according to our liking. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 127.)

There would seem to be an idea in some minds that the higher one’s spiritual status the more serious one has to be. Such a notion is entirely false. The reverse is the truth. Lighthearted merriment that comes truly from the heart, that hurts no one and is directed against no one to their detriment, but that is indulged in for the sake of making others merry, such merriment is welcomed and encouraged in the spirit world. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 191.)

[From the spirit side, Philip reports to his mother, Alice Gilbert, what went on “backstage” at a sceance led, on from spirit’s side, by “Mandy”:] Yesterday … I did a very effective tango with [Mandy} in my best Eastern manner after we’d finished talking to you. What a shock the worthy ladies at the circle would have got, had they been clairvoyant! But the kick was gone out of it, really. One needs a physical body for a tango. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 103.)

[William] Shakespeare: No fair hitting a spook!

[Robert] Leichtman: You mean that figuratively, of course, and not literally, I presume.

Shakespeare: I mean it literally figuratively. (William Shakespeare, DOC, 15.)

[Carl] Japikse: So what is the latest joke in heaven? …

[Will] Rogers: Well, the very latest joke in heaven is that you are asking this question. [Laughter.] You see, our jokes are more an attitude than actual words or phrases. So, if you have to ask what the latest joke in heaven is, you haven’t gotten it. (Will Rogers, DOC, 95.)

Sense of Safety and Supportiveness

There is a law of gravity here in the spirit world, but we are not subservient to it. All else is, but we human beings are not…. Or to put it another way, our minds can and do at all times rise above it. That again is second nature to us. If we should tumble down, we cannot hurt ourselves because our spirit bodies are impervious to all injury in whatever shape or form.

Incidentally, we do not often fall because we have not the heavy and rather clumsy bodies that are essential upon earth. It is mostly newly-arrived folk who do the tumbling! When we have become fully-acquainted with the power and force of our minds we never do such awkward things. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 109.)

The feeling of safety [that I experience] is definitely connected [to the atmospheric presence that I sense] in that I know that no evil or harm can befall me, that each of my choices will yield benefits, and that this loving condition upholds me in all of my ways. … I am … always delightfully conscious of [this] extraordinary sense of safety that leads, say, to heroic acts and courage – naturally. There is the constant feeling that the universe is with me, for me, and with and for all others at the same time. Not only does it not conspire against me, but it ever lends its active support.

This willingness to help is everywhere apparent and promotes, of course, a sense of ease that, at the same time, stimulates the personality’s abilities in ways most difficult to describe. (William James, ADJ, 162.)

I know that this atmospheric presence does not have what I refer to as human characteristics, yet it does possess characteristics of an emotional nature, and it is this exuberance, this well-intentioned quality, that psychologically supplies my feeling of complete safety. It is as if I bask in the light of a psychological atmosphere that corresponds to the physical atmosphere of an ideal summer day. (William James, ADJ, 166.)

Absence of Earthly Problems and Suffering

Pain is purely a physical agency and is not known in the planes of soul. (Donald Macleod in HT, 15.)

We do not have the problems that constantly harass and worry earth people, problems, for example, of religion and politics, which throughout the ages have caused social upheavals that are still having their repercussions in the earth world at the present time. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 105.)

Q: Is there no need for money, trading, goods or jewels because all these things can be imagined into being?

That’s correct. Anybody who chooses to have them can have them. It is a society which is living compatibly. We need no rules or regulations on our side. There’s no need for police, government, overseers to come in to tell one what’s right or wrong because whatever you do is totally accepted. (1) (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 25.)

(1) However, those who violate the natural law on their own plane may be obliged to drop down a plane. This is the manner in which behaviour is naturally regulated.

All [regions and eras existing on the astral planes] have one characteristic in common, all are sublimated: that is to say, suffering, toil and sorrow are absent from each fantasy. Men, women and children bask in the satisfaction of earthly illusions which, through the imaginative processes, are satisfactorily fulfilled. The absence of struggle and effort from such lives gives to them a dream-like quality. In many cases such a condition is suggestive, in its aspect, of the peaceful character of a still, summer day. This may be said to be particularly the case when the dream is fading. (F.W.H. Myers, BHP, n.p.)

Absence of Fear

I could moralize a lot about the effects of the removal of fear among us. In retrospect it is easy to see how it plays the devil in human affairs and is at the root of evils of various kinds. This is illustrated clearly by the effect of its absence. For what have we to fear? We no longer fear death; it is a discredited bogy. We no longer fear hunger nor thirst; they do not exist. We no longer fear cold nor heat; our climate is equable, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that our bodies do not register change of temperature. There are no insurmountable barriers of distance or difficulty; if we want to go to the ends of the earth it is all open before us and our own desire will guide us surely to any destination. With all these material freedoms there is no frustration to engender anger of bitterness, no fear to breed hostility, no ‘haves’ to cause envy and greed in the ‘have-nots,’ and above all, no death to be feared as the ultimate evil. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 116.)

Absence of Loneliness

Such a thing [as loneliness] does not exist in this realm. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 29.)

Absence of Depression

'What do you do there when things go wrong, and you get 'blue' and discouraged?'

"It doesn't happen! We do sometimes wish we had more Power, that our influence could travel further, or that we ourselves were of greater influence. But this is always met by our guides or helpers by encouraging words and helpful and loving advice." (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 136.)

Absence of Compulsion

To many people, life is just a glorified continuation of their earth lives, without all the worry and discomfort. They bask, happily, in this state of blissful contentment, which they have, undoubtedly, earned. It suffices their needs at the moment. There is no compulsion to seek further, if it is not your wish to do so. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 37.)

No person is forced in these lands to submit to anything of which he disapproves. He is at liberty to seek elsewhere in the avoidance of offence to his fastidious susceptibilities. Equally, he is at liberty to emerge from his obscurity or seclusion if he eventually feels that he was mistaken. The latter is what always happens! (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 42.)

If there is anything of which [people] disapprove when the come here, they are at liberty to depart, to remove themselves, leaving us in the enjoyment of our own mode of life, while they betake themselves elsewhere and created their own bleak void – and live in it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 60.)

It is essential to understand that every occupation and every task performed by the inhabitants of this and higher realms is done willingly, for the pure wish of doing so, and never from the attitude of having to do it ‘whether they like it or not.’ (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 52.)

There are no indolent natures here. We are always occupied in some way, but that doesn’t mean that this is a life of eternal work as opposed to the old - and still current – idea of eternal rest. We all every one of us, have our time off, and no one will come and tell us if it’s time to start work again in the earthly sense. We have all the recreation we need and desire, and we come and go as we please. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 32.)

Q: Do all souls do something?

A: Many do not. Many prefer just to wander around in the own little frame of mind. Some prefer a comfortable little cottage where they just do their own thing. They’re not concerned about growing spiritually or mentally. They just need time to relax and unwind.

This is your won choice. If you want to lay in the sun all day, you may do this. If you want to go fishing all day, you may have that choice too. It’s whatever you have been doing in life and whatever your interests are which will continue.

Many people realize they had not taken the time to develop their creative aspects while on the earth plane, due to many karmic ties which had to be worked out – a life of long labor or hard work, where they’ve not been allowed to use these abilities. They, then, will take the time to do some of these creative thing, to manifest for themselves their own potentials.

People who are writers will continue to write, people who love music will become deeply involved in music. There is a wealth of knowledge and it’s all free to those who choose to continue their growth. Life does not stop when you cross over; it begins. Without the material concerns, which you had when you were in the body, you may do anything you choose. Nothing is forced upon you. You have total freedom. (1) (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 22-3.)

The total freedom the author speaks of does not extend to choice of destination; especially, to the dark plane, as the author makes plain in a later passage: “There is a hell, so to speak, that is a plane of darkness where you are living alone and forced to be with your negative thoughts of a lifetime.” (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 36.)

If [people] choose the out of doors, this is fine; they have perfect freedom to build their own little Hawaii or their own Switzerland, whatever kind of atmosphere, whatever kind of scenery they desire is where they will be. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 25.)

Many souls will go right back to their physical home in the earth plane, sit in their favorite chair and stay there. Many of them are unwilling to continue on. They are more tied to those they love here on the earth plane. And this is fine. If you choose to do this, you are not forced into anything. Many will wait, if they have left a love one to whom they were extremely close until the other partner crosses over and then they’ll go and explore their own creative potentials or the things which they hope to do. It’s up to the soul. Whatever he chooses, it will be. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 25.)

Religion is never forced on any soul, for this is something which man must decide for himself in his own heart. He has been given the freedom to associate with those with whom he feels comfortable – whether they be in the body or out – and, at the crossover, the transition of death, he is given the same opportunity. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 33.)

This is why we say you in the body should never force your beliefs on another soul until he is ready to hear. We never push our free will against any soul crossing over. He is given total free … choices on this side. (1) (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 33.)

(1) Of course this does not extend to destination. The disharmonious are not permitted to enter the Summerlands, etc.

Absence of Discord

All is common; all acts are governed by a spirit of universal love. (Bishop Wilberforce in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.)

Before you dismiss my statement as highly improbable, or all the painting of a picture of perfection impossible to attain except within the very highest realms of all, let me state the simple fact that discord and disagreement … could not possibly exist in this realm wherein is my home. … Whatever gifts we may possess in spirit, it is part of the essence of this realm that we have no inflated ideas of the power or excellence of those gifts. We acknowledge them in humility alone, without self-importance … and we are grateful for the opportunity of working, con amore, with our colleagues in the service of the Great Inspirer. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 117.)

New Opportunities

People born in poverty and vice, with but few opportunities for good, will have their education in the other world. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, MSTTT, n.p.)

The school was the home of realized ambitions to most of the students within it. I chatted with a number of them, and each told me that what he was studying now he had longed to study on earth, but had been denied the opportunity for reasons that are all too familiar. Some had found that commercial activities had left no time, or that the struggle for a living gas absorbed all the means to do so. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 54.)

[Thomas] tells me that he used to be a clerk in a printing house and always had longed to take a more effective part in the production of books, but a defective education and consequent lack of opportunity denied him advancement. … He was able to take advantage of the better education offered by the university [here]. How very much of the joy of our lives here consists in this freedom to overpass the frustrations of earth! (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 104.)

Later on I found out that specially trained souls are trained in the use of thought forms to allow the soul to settle down in suitable and familiar surroundings. Whatever you wish is supplied to you, whether it is a farm, factory, halls of music, science laboratory, college of arts, it is all available, and you can settle down for as long as you wish. (Donald Macleod in HT, 16.)

Temporary Indulgence of the New Arrival

We have great banquets for those who choose to eat. If you feel you have a need to eat, you can have the greatest things that you never had before. Many people who were deprived of food, starving children, people who saw nothing but malnutrition around them – the idea of heaven to them would be a feast where they could have anything their heart desired.

So many people will spend months just sitting around a laden table full of anything you can think of and they will enjoy this. This, then, is their heaven; this is their idea of heaven. Those who have had plenty won’t particularly care for that. It is whatever you desire, whatever would be heaven to you is what you will receive initially. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 26.)

Clothing and luxuries are available freely for those who think they want them, but greed so easily satisfied soon dies of a surfeit. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 115.)

The fact that no one needs food or any particular kind of clothing or housing removes the tension and fear from living altogether and with this new freedom a great deal of the element of greed has vanished proving, if proof is needed, how entirely greed is the child of fear and insecurity.

When people first arrive here the ease with which any desired goods can be obtained sometimes goes to their head and they begin to clutch and hoard as they would have done on earth; but this is usually only a temporary phase. If it is a deep-seated trouble they probably gravitate to a lower plane where such attitudes can be tolerated but as a rule it is only a short-lived madness. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 115-6.)

You are never judged by whether you’re very material or not. It’s unimportant for all is growth. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 25.)

Once, still clinging to some incarnation wishes, I made a complete and perfect car and I got into it and began to drive, but it did not work at all well for at once my Ego was away and beyond it. It was a thought creation which could only function effectively in dense physical conditions. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 29.)

We have a lot of fun with the teenagers who have just arrived here. Especially the girls, when they think they’re still the cat’s whiskers. Oh, Dad, you’d laugh to see them primping around as if they were in a department store, changing out of one set of glad rags to put on another, and then starting again from scratch and dreaming up something even more weird and wonderful! Which promptly appears, as large as life and twice as natural! They have the time of their lives for hours. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, in FMW, 37.)

[All] is purely a matter of choice and we can all suit ourselves in the matter. But whatever we do, we shall not be considered eccentric if we wish to indulge some fancy. Our friends will recall their early days in the spirit world when they were similarly situated, and, accordingly, we shall have their sympathetic support and co-operation in the fulfillment of our desires, whatever they may be. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 71,)

Men and women do not cease to be human merely by crossing the frontier of what you call the invisible world. In fact, the human characteristics are often exaggerated, because the restraints are fewer. There are no penalties inflicted by the community for the [im]personating of one man by another. It is not taken seriously, for to the clearer sight of this world the disguise is too transparent. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XLV.)

One day I met a man in doublet and hose, who announced to me that he was Shakespeare. Now I have become accustomed to such announcements, and they do not surprise me as they did six or eight months ago. (Yes, I still keep account of your months, for a purpose of my own.)

    I asked this man what proof he could adduce of his extraordinary claim, and he answered that it needed no proof.

    "That will not go down with me," I said, "for I am an old lawyer."

    Thereupon he laughed, and asked:

    "Why did you not join in the game?" (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XLV.)

In a former letter I wrote about my meeting with a newly arrived lady, who, finding me dressed in a Roman toga, thought that I might be Caesar; and that I told her we were all actors here. I meant that, like children, we "dress up" when we want to impress our own imagination, or to relive some scene in the past.

    This playing of a part is usually quite innocent, though sometimes the very ease with which it is done brings with it the temptation to deception, especially in dealings with the earth people. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XLV.)

Many people, when they first come over, will be very clothes conscious and they will choose beautiful gowns and jewels to wear. You have the choice and no one condemns you for this is something which is pleasing to you. Once you have elevated beyond the astral realm, (1) you find less need for this kind of manifestation. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 25.)

(1) I.e., on the Mental Plane. In fact, only after one “outgrows” the need for this kind of manifestation would residence on the Mental Plane become possible.

Socializing

We have gatherings as you have. (Bishop Wilberforce in Moses, MSTSW, n.p.)

Here in spirit we need no formal introductions; we constitute one large united gathering in the matter of ordinary ‘social intercourse.’ (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 28.)

You have but to step outside your door to find people who would soon drive any loneliness away. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 35.)

But I was speaking of the lack of conventionality out here. Souls hail each other when they want to, without much ceremony. I have seen a few old women who were afraid to talk to a stranger, but probably they had not been here long and the earth habits still clung to them.

    Do not think, however, that society here is too free and easy. It is not that, but men and women do not seem to be so afraid of each other as they were on earth. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XV.)

There is no coercion here and no tyranny of time so when one kind of life palls one can freely exchange it for another. There is a constant coming and going at the university and study, recreation and fellowship all play their part in its life, but students frequently go off for a spells of other kinds of experience and return when they are ready. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 102.)

The structure of our society is therefore very diversified; it is stratified horizontally, as it were, and also vertically along the axis of time. Many people have been here for hundreds of years in earth time although they hardly ever realize this, and so one gets a mixture of the manners and customs of many ages and historical eras. There is certainly no danger of dullness because of a dead level of conformity; the bewildering variety of people, manners, and outlooks is endlessly fascinating. While I have been associated with Mitchell it is understandable that most of my associates have been those recently arrived in these planes and most of them have been contemporaries of my own, or even from a later generation. The university, too, tends to be filled with recent arrivals. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 118-9.)

Engagements are seldom made — that is, binding engagements. As a rule, though there are exceptions, desire is mutual. I want to see and commune with a friend at the same time when he feels a desire for my society, and we naturally drift together. The companionships here are very beautiful; but the solitudes are also full of charm. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXVII.)

'And what else [do you do]?' "Pleasure." 'Isn't all your work pleasure?' "So it is. But we do sometimes give ourselves up to pleasures which have no object except enjoyment. Do you see? It is our pleasure to study; it is our pleasure to help others; it is our pleasure to go to libraries, or to other circles to watch their methods of teaching and helping. But once in awhile we have, —well — just that, a good time!" 'What do you do?' "I do not think I can tell you exactly, because everything happens on the spur of the moment. Some one has an inspiration and we are all swept into it. It isn't cards; it isn't dancing; it isn't motoring. It is just the delightful letting down of our serious selves, just the happy interchange of thought and action." 'I am afraid we do not understand much of spirit life.'   "We know you do not. Neither did we before we came. But not all here is serious. We are not always studying big problems. We do have the delight of variety, of geniality, of the play of wit, the charm of perfect companionship." (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 99.)

Owing to the nature of human personality, we naturally seek out those few to whom we were drawn in that past period, whom death had severed from us, but in no way obliterated from our minds. In the creation of our surroundings therefore, of our clothes, of our dwellings and our occupations, we depend to a certain degree on these comrades of ours and we work together in small communities, building up our little worlds, expressing our many unsatisfied human desires in a manner that is at last adequate and sufficient for our needs.

I describe in this instance, of course, the fate of the average human being when he has passed through the gates of death. (Frederic W.H. Myers, BHP, n.p.)

“Races” Exist and Co-Exist in the Summerlands

The personality and individuality and attributes of the person are … continued after his arrival in the spirit world. The physical distinctions of race will be preserved, borne upon his face, in the very colour of his skin, and in other ways that will readily occur to you, and these he will retain in the spirit world. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 115.)

But National Groups Tend to Cluster

In this plane are to be found replicas of earth with all its races and countries and by exercising the wonderful power of desire one can travel and explore at will. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 49-50.)

I want now to explain how the various nationalities find their homes here. As might be expected there are replicas of each country here and men go to their appropriate national home, following naturally the law of affinity. You will find these replicas on each plane so that the vertical grading of society exists throughout. Thus each plane has inhabitants representing each nation and intervisitation on the same plane is easy and natural to us.

Relations between national groups are friendly and a good deal of travelling and exchange of nationals goes on. The stupid barriers of language do not divide us to the same extent, since where words fail other ways of understanding are open to us and so no serious misunderstanding can arise. There appears to be less mingling of races on the lower planes where there does not seem to be the same desire to cross national boundaries. Among us, and still more so on higher planes, national distinctions become blurred and will finally be lost. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 117-8.)

I have been on excursions to different parts of this ‘other world,’ as people call it. I have discovered that it closely resembles the different countries on earth which have been inhabited. I had no idea that this world was like that. (Gordon Burdick to Grace Rosher in TR, 51.)

Yes, people here live in "sets" or "colonies," because those of like interests and nationalities gravitate naturally to each other, and to their own people. Otherwise, [you] can imagine [you] would not / be very happy if you found yourself mixed up with people of every nationality, with dissimilar tastes and experiences, and with nothing in common between you, for the fact of dying does not change you in any way. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 87-8.)

Then, as to the country itself. Nations prefer their own type of country however delightful that of others’ may be. Here they can find it. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 121.)

Every nation on earth has some position and location in the spirit world. People like to be among their own kind and there’s no reason why they should not be. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 121.)

When you consider the enormous variety of national temperament and characteristics distributed throughout the earth-plane, it is not surprising that the people of each nation should wish to gravitate to those of their own kind in the spirit world, just as much as they wish to do when upon the earth-plane. Individual choice, of course, is free and open to every soul; he may live in whatsoever part of his own realm that he pleases. There are no fixed territorial frontiers here to separate the nations. They make their own invisible frontiers of temperament and customs, but the members of all the nations of the earth are at liberty to intermingle in the spirit world, and to enjoy unrestricted and happy social intercourse.

The language question presents no difficulty because we are not obliged to speak aloud. We can transmit our thought to each other with the full assurance that that they will be received by the person whom we are mentally addressing. Thus language constitutes no barrier.

Each of the national subdivisions of the spirit world bears the characteristics of its earthly counterpart. That is but natural. My own home is situated in surroundings that are familiar to me and that are a counterpart of my earthly home in general appearance. These surroundings are not an exact replica of the earthly surroundings by which I mean that my spirit home is located in the type of countryside with which I and my friends are very familiar.

This dividing of nations extends only to certain number of realms. Beyond that, nationality, as such, ceases to be. There we retain only our outward and visible distinctions, such as the color of our skin, whether it be yellow, white or black. We shall cease to be nationally conscious such as [we were] upon the earth-plane and during our sojourn in the realms of less degree. Our homes will no longer have a definite national appearance and will partake more of pure spirit. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 129-30.)

Mixing of Eras

The people of the earth world may think it strange to walk through these realms and mingle with persons who lived on the earth-plane hundreds – and, in some cases, thousands – of years ago. A meeting of the past, as it were, with the eternal present. But it is not strange to us here. It may be so for the newly-arrived, but then there are many other things that may seem strange – at first. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 175.)

An interesting variation in our society is caused by the admixture of earth-ages as represented in any one plane. There can easily be people living in close harmony here together whose earth lives were separated by centuries, and this means that often the generations widely separated in earth time are simultaneous here. For instance, I may be associating with my grandfather, great-grandfather and so on for some generations back yet we shall all be roughly of the same age. The differences in our earthly experiences give rise to piquant interchanges and contrast and what I may the “living history” aspect of our society intrigues and delights the historian. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 118.)

Since I have become free of a wider society I am realizing the possibilities of mixing with those of an earlier age.

I have a special friend who belonged to a knightly family in the middle ages. He went on a crusade and eventually lost his life in Palestine. We have found much in common in our knowledge of and love for the Near-East. Glimpses of the real campaigns of those days that I get from his accounts are a wonderful corrective to the inaccurate romancing of the history books. His first-hand knowledge makes nonsense of the usual methods of research. His language also delights me. I found it hard to follow at first with its strong admixture of Norman-French, but when words fail us we can always get along by the exchange of thoughts. His interest in modern conditions and modern campaigns is as keen as mine in those of the past, so we are intensely pleased with each other’s company. He is a simple soul whose creed of fighting loyally, feasting royally and thinking rarely or never has kept him in the lower planes for a long while where the fantasies of battle and feasting could continue. A gradual emancipation from these illusions freed him and he is learning now to adjust himself to a world where fighting is an anachronism but his restless energy often has to be worked off by long expeditions to the East. Imagine visiting the desert in company with a fully armed Crusader! He keeps the fashion of his clothing and the accoutrements of his day, as most people do. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 118-20.)

Interest in Earth Slowly Wanes

Viewpoints change very much when one comes to live here. What we deemed so very important when we were incarnate, we find is not nearly so important when we arrive in the spirit world. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 149.)

There is much pride out here in the accomplishments of the earth-life, especially among those who have recently come out. This lessens with time, and after one has been long here one’s interests are likely to be more general. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XLV.)

All the old timers who shared our pioneering days are on this side now. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 82.)

There is so much that is fascinating to do and see [here] and the workings of the great power-house to study, that intelligent people soon lose earthly pre-occupations. (Philip Gilbert in PTS, 22.)

People here, unless they are earth-bound, are not so acutely interested in the doings of those they’ve left unless there is a very strong love – or hate! – bond or some debt to pay off. (Philip Gilbert in PTW, 104.)

The more we adapt ourselves to the sphere we belong to, (1) the farther are we removed from your world. (Sigwart, BOTR, 53.)

(1) In Sigwart’s case, it is the Mental Plane, but I include it here because it is relevant to the situation of people in the Astral Plane as well. In this section, Philip Gilbert, Frederic Myers, and William James are also speaking from the Mental Plane. Julia Ames could be speaking from the Christ Plane or the Mental Plane.

The time will come when I should not be allowed to communicate with you. (Sigwart, BOTR, 49.)

Usually [the average man after death] is like a blind puppy after birth. He writes of what he cannot see. When perception comes to him, when sight is bestowed on the eyes of his soul, he does not, so far as I am aware, look towards the earth again. He feels his own mental impecuniosity. He has not the power to express in words, which he must borrow from earth minds, the amazing character of life after death. So he is silenced, and no echo comes from behind the dark curtain which will even faintly convey the music of that other life, yield to man the strange rhythm of a universe within a universe, a life within a life, and all lying, as ships in harbour, within the infinite imagination of God. (Frederick W.H. Myers, RTI, n.p.)

After death, earth life is such a small arena of activity that we wonder how it can contain such depths and dimensions of action and meaning. (William James, ADJ, 156.)

When I first arrived my strongest desire was to try to demonstrate to the friends I left behind the fact that I still lived…. As time passed and the attractions of this life began to manifest themselves to me, I was drawn away from my efforts to communicate with earth. I found many avenues of advancement, and all were so promising I had some difficulty for a time in making my choice. (William James in LHH, 107.)

We do forget our earth lives, with all the appointments we treasured while there. You can hardly realize the complete transfer of interest when the change is made from the earth life to the spirit existence. We are hardly conscious of the earth life, for the change in every particular is so great, and every moment here is so filled with joy, or study, or care for others, we do forget — forget everything except the love we bear for the dear ones there. (Spirit Control Mary Bosworth to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 129.)

When in my earlier letters I spoke of the intense desire of those who had passed over to communicate with those who are left behind, I wrote truly. I was at the time but newly arrived, and I was amid the multitude of the newly arrived, and among them I did not exaggerate the grief, the indignation, the heart-break of a love which was doomed to see those whom they loved but were not able to communicate with them or to staunch their tears. Now, after more experience, and, with better opportunities for observation, I should say that the number of the ‘dead’ who wish to communicate with the living are comparatively few. With the exception of those whose influence by writing or acting persists, and is therefore a living link with the living world, there are few, possibly not one in a million, whose interest in the survivors is an active force.

It is with us as with immigrants to my former country. When they arrive their hearts are in the old world. The new world is new and strange. They long to hear from the old home and the post brings them more joy than the sunrise. But after a very little time the pain is dulled, new interests arise, and, in a few years, sometimes in a few months, they write no more. With us here the change is even more rapid. For the new life is more absorbing and the survivors constantly recruit our ranks. When the family circle is complete, when those we loved are with us, why should we trouble to communicate? The whole planet with its 1,500,000,000 inhabitants is full of strangers, our life lies on our own plane. Therefore, do not think that what I said of the eager, passionate longing of those on this side to communicate with you is true of any but those in the midst of whom I was when I wrote [earlier]. (Julia Ames, AD, 175-6.)

When once we have left the earth-plane we are inclined to forget our earthly birthday since the greater contains the lesser. It is only our earthly connections, if we have any, that will serve to remind us. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, LIWU, 57.)

A great number [of the newly-arrived] show no further interest in their old earthly life and mode of living, but will concentrate all their energies upon the larger world that is opening out before them. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 39.)

Many people here regard their advent into spirit lands as their second birth and they keep up the celebration of the second birthday with a deal more vigour than they ever did their birthday on earth. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 24.)

Relevance of “Trivial” Details

The spirit world is a real world, people with real individuals. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 67.)

You who are upon earth do not know what it is to live, really to live. And you will never know until you come here for all time. So that it is only by comparing some of the ‘trivial’ details of our respective modes of living that you can gather any kind of idea of this perfect land in which I live. Merely to give a broad sketch of our life in the spirit world might be satisfactory as far as it goes, but it would leave a great deal unsaid. Much detail would be missing and it would thus be left to your imagination and speculation to supply the missing information necessary to make a fuller and more comprehensive picture.

To wave aside such particulars as I am giving you because they seem trivial and very earthly and unworthy of consideration when ‘heaven’ is under discussion is to hold a totally wrong conception of spirit lands. We are live people living in a beautiful land, a land far more solid than the earth. We love the countryside and the city; we love our houses and gardens; we are blessed with delightful friends. But the country and the city; the houses and the gardens; and, lastly our friends have more substance about them than can be found upon earth, and this substance is made up of such details as I am describing to you. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 66.)

Relationships and Sexuality on the Spirit Planes

Relationships Can be Closer than on Earth

The event of death does not bring us nearer, but love is not held in bonds as it is on earth. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 5.)

The union between those who love truly grows ever closer and closer. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 8.)

"We are two spirits, like an earthly marriage, as far as choice of companionship and love are concerned. Do you believe this to be possible with spirits?"

‘Why not?'

"Yes, why not? For love remains.” (Unnamed spirits to Charlotte E. Dresser, LHH, 113.)

You will never want for wise and willing friends to help you in whatever way you need. You have already in this brief period gathered friends about you, from whom nothing can separate you, for you now live in a world where no such separation can take place. We are always here, even as you are. (The Ruler of the Spirit Realms to Roger in Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 155.)

We are No Longer Relatives

In the spirit world all previous generations of a family are co-existing. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 87.)

Bear in mind that I am not now the son of my father from my last lifetime. That was one life episode. Neither am I the child of my parents in the life before that, or the one before that. Those relationships do not carry on and it is a mistake to expect them to. They carry on for a while after death: in the case of an elderly married couple who pass on within a few years of each other, for example, it is part of their healing and adjustment to be together again as man and wife briefly in the spirit and have what we call a second honeymoon. But, after they leave the vestibule, (1) they won’t think of each other as man and wife in the physical sense. They will, however, continue to be aware of each other for a long time. That’s why they chose to get married in that specific lifetime.

Family relationships pertain to one given lifetime. I don’t mean to disrupt the unity of the physical family with these comments. That’s a sacred thing. But it is important to realize that everyone is so much more than the child of his physical parents or the child of his physical parents in his last lifetime or the husband of his wife ten thousand years ago. We can’t hold all of these ties and it was never meant that we should. On the other hand, we do know each other: I frequently talk with people I knew in a lifetime I had in the sixteenth century. We still know each other. We’re friends, but we don’t think of each other as relatives. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 74-5.)

(1) Raymond’s name for the Borderlands.

When you consider that we live forever, then obviously any one of us has had ten thousand times ten thousand families. That’s a lot of relatives. (Raymond Lodge in SOLR, 75.)

Marriages May or May Not Continue

Stainton Moses: It having been said that a friend and his wife who had frequently manifested were now removed to other spheres of work, I asked whether the marriage ties were perpetuated.

That depends entirely on similarity of taste and equality of development. In the case of this being attained, the spirits can progress side by side. In our state we know only of community of taste and of association between those who are on the same plane and can be developed by mutual help. All things with us are subordinated in the education of the spirit, which is perpetually being developed. There can be no community of interest save between congenial souls. Consequently no tie can be perpetuated which is not a help to progress.

The uncongenial bonds which have embittered the soul’s earth life, and marred its upward progress, cease with the bodily existence. The union of soul with soul which in the body has been a source of support and assistance is developed and increased after the spirit is free. The loving bonds which encircle such souls are the greatest incentive to mutual development, and so the relations are perpetuated, not because they have once existed, but because in the eternal fitness of things they minister to the spirit’s education. In such cases the marriage tie is perpetuated, but only in such sort as the bond of fellowship between friends endures and is strengthened by mutual help and progress.

All souls that are mutually helpful remain in loving intercourse so long as it is profitable for them. When the period arrives at which it is more profitable for them to separate they go their way without sorrow for they can still commune and share each other’s interests. The reverse of such law would only perpetuate misery and eternally bar progress. Nothing is permitted to do this. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, 45-6.) You wish to know something of the future life of those who have been happily married on earth. We must divide them into two classes: those who have been truly mated, and those who have not been so, but have been married to partners with whom they have been fairly happy, but not completely so. As regards those who have not been happy enough to come under either of the / above classes, we can only say they have lived a life against Nature’s laws and have to suffer the natural penalty.

All men must ultimately meet their true mates, whether in this life or the next; just as certainly as all men must be sooner or later saved. (1) This may take centuries of time to accomplish, according as they have lived when in the flesh. An unhappy life in the flesh tends to retard their happiness in the future; hence those who do not come under the foregoing categories are simply delayed in their happiness, like all other transgressors.

Those who have been true to their companions, and have gained their love, have, of course, nothing to repent of in the next life. If the two partners then find that they were not conjugally as happy as they would like to have been, their relationship in the next world will simply be that of friends, and they may each meet their true companions there and be happy.

Marriage, in fact, does continue in heaven, theologians notwithstanding; and only those who have been truly mated here can conceive how impossible it would be for a heavenly society to exist without the continued existence and capacity for enjoying the highest love, next to that of God.

Of course, those who have not known true love on earth can be excused for not being able to reconcile their notion of heaven with the continued existence of earthly marriages. (Spirit leader Imperator quoted in SR, 15-6.)

(1) “Saved” ultimately means to be fully enlightened and merged in God, which is the end and purpose of our lives. But Imperator is here using the word to mean “saved” from the need to physically reincarnate, which is a landmark on the way to ultimate “salvation.”

Spirits filled with mutual love can never be really separated. You are hampered in understanding our state by considerations of time and space. You cannot understand how souls can be far apart, as you count space, and yet be, as you would say, intimately united. We know no time, no space.

We could not obtain really close union with any spirit unless the intelligence be absolutely on the same mental and progressive plane. Indeed, any such union would be impossible for us. Soul may be linked with soul in bonds of affection, without an intimate connection such as we mean by being on the same plane of development. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, 46.)

Q: Are married couples reunited in death?

A: Yes, they are if they choose to be. If the marriage was not a happy situation and one where there was not a true union of love, they may choose not to be together on the other side. This is free will. If it was a marriage held together strictly for convenience or for the children’s sake, they wouldn’t want to be together. There would be people they would be more drawn to with deeper love bonds and associations.

You are free to flow with whomever you choose. If you have been married three or four times, you will find that you will want to be with the one whom you truly love and it could even be someone from another incarnation. It may not even have anything to do with the one in this incarnation. You will be with those you love and there is a total merger which is a much higher experience and a deeper love bond than anything which you can know on the earth plane.

Q: If you had a husband or wife whom you loved but who had done a lot of wrong on earth, would you not have the opportunity to be with this entity?

A: With free will you can be with them if you choose to be. However, on the other side, you will be drawn into a realm of people who are more like you. There is no reason to hold those love bonds unless it’s by choice and if you choose to be together, certainly it’s possible. You always can go down, or be with those below you, but you can never go up. This must be earned. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 28.)

There is a union on the other side, not necessarily a marriage. This is a free-will choosing. If couples prefer to remain together, they can remain together and this is allowed. As long as their interests and growth are taking them in the same direction, they will remain together.

If they choose to go in another direction, there are no hurt feelings or anything like you would go through on the earth plane. There is no possessiveness, no demands made upon the soul, and each is free to grow in his own way, in his own time, at his own choosing. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 27.)

In the spirit world we are at liberty to live as we wish. If we desire to join forces with one or more companions, we shall soon be able to find others, similarly inclined, to unite with us and share the one domicile. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 87.)

There are many couples to be found living in charming houses here; for example, a husband and wife who were happily married when upon the earth, admirably suited to each other and with a real bond of affection between them. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, HH, 87.)

We know that there are certain fundamental truths, just as you know there are certain fundamental laws. But in the various things which surround these truths there are matters which we can interpret according to the impressions they make upon us. We might use as an example the attitude that most of us take here in regard to the union of the two sexes. When I first came over I was thoroughly convinced that there was no marriage in heaven, and for a long time I could not see that there was anything to indicate it. I saw men and women associating freely and independently, and although I saw apparent friendships of more than usual intensity, I did not think of them as inseparable. If I had been communicating with earth at that time I would have conscientiously said that there was no mating here that was lasting. But now I know that the two sexes are drawn together here [sometimes] by indissoluble ties. And of such is the Kingdom of Heaven. (Unnamed spirit in LHH, 39-40.)

"We are anxious to tell you our story. It is a little different from most you have, and may interest some one there.

  "I was a school teacher on earth in a western village. I worked hard, almost starved at times in order to buy the other things I craved. I was never married, and had little attention from the male sex. I was not old when death relieved me from further efforts to keep body and soul together.”

  "The one who is my companion now was a man much above me in intellectual station when he was on earth. He was a college graduate, a successful teacher, and had a comfortable living. He too remained unmarried. We met here soon after his arrival, as I was caring for some of the newcomers I was attracted to him by his undoubted culture; and when he was able to understand this life he seemed drawn to me by the fact that learning and knowledge meant so much to me. I was not then ready to form an alliance, for I had never felt any necessity for such a partner. So we drifted along. I went on with my work of helping the poor souls who came in such multitudes with every passing day.

When I next met my friend he had climbed high in the study of astronomy, which you know is one of the fascinating attractions here. I was induced to join him in one of the excursions for observation, and during the journey my inner self began to realize the need for a more constant companionship with some one. And after our return I allowed the intimacy to grow. It soon ripened into the great attraction that draws all of opposite sex together at some time in their journey through eternity.”

  "We have been together now for a long time, and the bliss of close companionship is what I would somehow like to tell you about so that the world can get some faint understanding of this part of our life and happiness. But how can I tell it! It is the most wonderful experience of one's life, as those on earth know who have had the good fortune to realize it there.”

  "We see many who come here who have thought they had made an alliance which would last forever, who had no real conception of such happiness. It is felt only once by anyone, and can never be mistaken when it really comes. I have watched the growth of several such attractions here, and I realize that the earth life seldom encounters the real thing. Many married people continue together here for a long time, and yet gradually drift apart as they learn the true laws governing such matings. It is always happiness, however. Such separations here are never accompanied with sorrow.”

  "It may seem a little indelicate to you for me to enlarge upon so intimate a subject. But we here know that it is the ultimate happiness of every one, and something which most here are ready to take into consideration at any time. If you will remember who is writing this, you will find when you come two of the happiest souls whom you will have the pleasure to meet. But it is always so, isn't it? All lovers think their case is the very best the world ever saw or knew. We here know, of course, that it is only a question of temperament and character that determines the depth of the happiness that comes with each mating. But for those concerned there is never any other that compares with theirs.” (Schoolteacher, LHH, 38-9.)

There are two women here who in life were both married to one man, though not at the same time. The first woman died, then the man married again, and soon — not more than a year or two after — the man and his second wife both came out. The first wife considers herself the man's only wife, and she follows him about everywhere. She says that he promised to meet her in heaven. He is more inclined to the second wife, though he still feels affection for Wife No. 1.

He is rather impatient at what he calls her unreasonableness. He told me one day that he would gladly give them both up, if he could be left in peace to carry out certain studies in which he is interested. These were among the people I met soon after I began to be strong myself here — it was not so very long ago; and the man has sought my society so much that the women, in order to be near him, have come along too.

    One day they all three came to me and propounded their question — or, rather, Wife No. 1 propounded it. She said:

    "This man is my husband. Should not, therefore, this other woman go far away and leave him altogether to me?"

    I asked Wife No. 2 what she had to say. Her answer was that she would be all alone here but for her husband, and that as she had had him last, he now belonged more to her than to the other.

    In a flash the memory came to me of those Sadducees who propounded a similar question to Christ, and I quoted His answer as nearly as I could remember it: that "when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven."

    My answer was as much a staggerer for them as their question had been for me, and they went away to think about it.

    When they were gone I began myself to ponder the question. I had already observed that, whether or not all here are as the angels in heaven, there does seem to be a good deal of mating and rejoining of former mates. …

    After a while the three came to me again and said that they had been talking things over, perhaps after the manner of angels in heaven; for Wife No. 1 told me that she had decided to "let" her husband spend a part of his time with the other woman, if he wanted to.

    Now, the man had a sweetheart, a girl sweetheart, before he had either of his wives. The girl is out here somewhere, and the man often has a strong desire to try to find her. What opportunity he will now have to do so, I cannot say. The situation is rather depressing for the poor fellow. It is bad enough to have one person who insists on every minute of your society, without having two. And I think his case is not unusual. Perhaps the only way in which he can get free from his two insistent companions is by going back to the earth. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XVII.)

Love unites spirits at whatever distance. You see that in your low state of existence. The brother loves the brother, though vast expanse of ocean separates their homes, the long years have rolled away since the eye looked on the form and the ear listened to the words of the absent one. Their pursuits may be widely different: they may have no mutual idea, yet mutual love exists.

The wife loves the degraded besotted ruffian who mutilates her body and strives to crush her spirit. The hour of dissolution will free her from slavery and pain. She will soar while he will sink; but the bond of love will not be snapped, though the spirits may no longer consort together. Even here space is annihilated: with us it does not exist. And so you may dimly understand that with us union means identity of development, community of interest, mutual and affectionate progression. We know no such indissoluble ties as exist with you. (Spirit leader Imperator in Moses, ST, 46.)

Sex is Replaced by a Merging

Mutual love in our regions … is so different from human sexual intercourse. … We feel our mutual love with varying degrees of intensity and the greatest degree is accompanied by a sort of temporary merging of one with another. It is done always in complete privacy. … It is something very sacred and entirely lawful with a chosen partner who is of full affinity and it leaves afterwards a sense of happiness which no words can express. Such unions are not meant to increase the population of Paradise, but are purely private expressions of love. (Revd Charles Fryer in Paul Beard, LO, 118.)

Love, here, is experienced as a glorious mingling of the vibrations of the auric fields. (This, also, on occasion may be experienced while still in a physical body.) Loving widens / one’s aura and field of contact and leaves a deep glow and warmth of affection. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 46-7.)

On this side, when I met my beloved wife, I became herself — she was transformed into me. All that she knew and felt became the content of my consciousness. All that I had attempted and achieved, all that I had failed to accomplish, yet battled and struggled to complete, was known to her as no words, no thoughts even, as earth uses the terms, could have conveyed. We were one, yet individually our own very separate selves, knowing as we were known, to the full extent of each other's capacity. Capacity is the only limitation in the spiritual realms. (Philemon [Archdeacon Wilberforce], LFOS, 8-9.)

There is no need for sexual organs on the other side unless you choose to have them. What you know as a sexual relationship is a higher merging of souls and is not limited to husband and wife. This is a total merger with anyone you choose to give the love energy to. It’s just steeping inside of one another’s auras, a total blending of energies. It’s a way of expressing love and sharing. (Unnamed spirit teacher through Betty Bethards, TIND, 24.)

Dot says she works for the “castaways”! But you’d hardly agree if you could look in upon some of her very highly-coloured ladies and their swains! The swain part is very typical. They are drawn / here by the desire for sex, thinking that anyway they are not cut off from some of the joys of living, as they’d known them. They find a willing tart and proceed as before – but they have no sex organs! So what? Something quite different. Through lying together the auras become enmeshed. As you know, a man’s rotates one way and a woman’s the other, so once they are in contact with a definite thought link, they suddenly find a curious feeling of at-oneness coming over them (you and Pa have experienced this in mutual prayer), and of course over here it is far stronger.

They feel drawn together as by a magnet. It exhilarates and unites and they become lovers in a higher sense which of course they don’t understand, but are quite ready to enjoy. This continues until an urge grows in them to go further. They have mixed with the rest in the dining room and the cocktail bar and they have all danced together: in this way they fulfill the lust instincts and often leave in couples to explore, to travel and sometimes to work for some bigger cause allowing Universal Spirit to flow through them. (Tricia in AL, 124-5.)

Gender is Less Important than on Earth

Men and women still have the same feelings towards one another as on earth, but without the biological urge. (Unnamed spirit communicator in Paul Beard, LO, 117.)

The sex distinction is as real here as on the earth, though, of course, its expression is not exactly the same. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XVII.)

'Is there as much difference between the sexes there as here?'

"No. The magnetic attraction is probably the influence. You can feel that to a certain extent in earthly ties, can you not?"

'How about the associations in your circle? Does sex make any difference there?'

"Not much. We are all friends, and when we belong / to the same circle it means that we are attracted by the same thoughts, plans, desires, and tastes. Of course this means that we are in tune with each other; there are no jarring notes, the vibrations are the same."

"We are not male and female as on earth. The sex question is one of beauty and naturalness here, quite removed from the coarseness of the earth attraction. It is one of vibration; one of harmony; one of coming together of two forces, like the positive and negative currents of electricity. Yet it exists, and adds to the joy of this life. But it never interferes as it does on earth, with other loves and other companionships. All is within the power of magnetic attraction.” (Dee in SWSL, 121-2.)

You are going to ask about sex. … First, you must define the word so that we have no misunderstanding. If you define sex as the gratification of lust, there is no sex here because there is no lust. If you define sex as the act essential to procreation, we could have no sex because there is no need to procreate. God and God alone creates souls. If you define sex as the melding of two souls in love who are sharing both a physical and a moving, tender, spiritual experience, then I must explain very carefully.

First of all, there is no human exaltation that can approach the ecstacy of the spirit. I have told you in the past that there is no aphrodisiac as powerful as the human mind. … We have no need for what you know now, what I once knew, as sex. … You will have something far better. (Thavis, TIH, 100-2.)

Does sex persist in this new life?

In a modified form, yes. The reader will concede that the primary purpose of sex on the material plane is to provide for the perpetuation of the race. No such need exists here. But sex differentiation is not only a question of the body, it is also a matter of the soul, and, although you leave all the physical sexual differences and demands behind you when you come across death, you still bear in your natures sex qualities and differences. And so here a man remains a man and a woman remains a woman.

But, as you grow upward towards the higher things, there is a gradual diminution and lessening of the sex dividing line and the sex division which is sharply accentuated with the new arrivals in this life, diminishes more and more with spiritual growth. The two natures, once acutely divided, grow towards each other and each gradually develops qualities peculiar to the other. Man acquires on his upward career woman’s tenderness and woman attains to man’s strength. (Unnamed spirit communicator in SRE, 63.)

Spiritual Experiences

Regaining Past-Life Knowledge on the Astral Plane

Ed. For instances of regaining past-life knowledge on the Mental Plane, see here

Now I am myself living, and sometimes working, on the so-called astral plane, and what I say about the plane is the result of experience and not of theory. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XLVI.)

Most of the men and women here do not know that they have lived many times in flesh. (1) They remember their latest life more or less vividly, but all before that seems like a dream. One should always keep the memory of the past as clear as possible. It helps one to construct the future. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XVI.)

(1) Many people think that past-life memory only comes with accession to the Mental Plane so Judge Hatch is probably a rare individual to remember his past lives on the Astral Plane.

If a man understands that his recent sojourn on earth was merely the latest of a long series of lives, and if he concentrates his mind towards recovering the memories of the distant past, he can recover them. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XVII.)

I see the past now as through an open window. I see the road by which I have come, and can map out the road by which I mean to go. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter V.)

My own clothes are, as a rule, similar to those I wore on earth, though I have as an experiment, when dwelling in thought on one of my long-past lives, put on the garments of the period. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XV.)

The children are so charming! One young boy is with me often; he calls me Father, and seems to enjoy my society. He would be, I should think, about thirteen years old, and he has been out here some time. …

The curious thing about it is that he can remember other and former lives of his on earth. Many out here have no more memory of their former lives, before the last one, than they had while in the body. This is not a place where everyone knows everything—far from it. Most souls are nearly as blind as they were in life.

The boy was an inventor in a prior incarnation, and he came out this time by an accident, he says. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XI.)

I [propose], for instance, in a few years, not only to pick up a general knowledge of the conditions of this four-dimensional world, but to go back over my other lives and assimilate what I learned in them. I want to make a synthesis of the complete experiences of my ego up to this date, and to judge from that synthesis what I can do in the future with least resistance. I believe, but am not quite sure, that I can bring back much of this knowledge with me when I am born again. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXI.)

In going back over my past lives I realise the why and wherefore of my last one. It was, in a way, the least satisfactory of my many lives—save one; but now I see its purpose, and that I laid the plans for it when I was last out here. I even arranged to go back to earth at a definite time, in order to be with certain friends who met me there. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXVI.)

Already I am laying the lines for my next coming, though there is no hurry. Bless you! I am not going back until I have had my fill of the freedom and enjoyment of this existence here.

    Also I have much studying to do. I want to review what I learned in those hitherto forgotten but now remembered lives.

Do you recall how, when you went to school, you had occasionally to review the lessons of the preceding weeks or months? That custom is based on a sound principle. I am now having my review lessons. By and by, before I return to the world, I shall review these reviews, fixing by will the memories which I specially wish to carry over with me. It would be practically impossible to carry over intact the great panorama of experience which now unrolls itself before the eyes of my memory; but there are several fundamental things, philosophical principles and illustrations, which I must not forget.

Also I want to take with me the knowledge of certain formulae and the habit of certain practices which you would probably call occult; by means of which, when I am mature again in my new body, I can call into memory this very pageant of experience which now rolls before me whenever I will it. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXVI.)

I have had much joy in going back over my Greek incarnations. What concentration they had—those Greeks! They knew much. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXVI.)

I have been visiting those lands and cities where in former lives I lived and worked among men. One of the many advantages of travel is that it helps a man to remember his former existences. There is certainly a magic in places.

I have been in Egypt, in India, in Persia, in Spain, in Italy; I have been in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Greece, Turkey, and many other lands. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXXII.)

I have been in Constantinople and have stood in the very room where I once had a remarkable experience, hundreds of years ago. I have seen the walls, I have touched them, I have read the etheric records of their history, and my own history in connection therewith.

      I have walked the rose-gardens of Persia and have smelled the flowers—the grandchildren, hundreds of times removed, of those roses whose fragrance was an ecstasy to me when, watching with the bulbul, I paced there in another form and with intentions different to mine now. It was the perfume of the roses which made me remember.

      In Greece also I have lived over the old days. Before their degeneration began, what a race they were! I think that concentration was the secret of their power. The ether around that peninsula is written over with their exploits, in daring thought as well as daring action. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXXII.)

I have made wonderful discoveries in the archives of my own soul. There I have found the memories of all my past, back to a time almost unbelievably distant. In seeing how the causes set up in one life have produced their effects in another life, I have learned more than I shall learn on my coming tour of the planets. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter LIII.)

Intimations of Ecstatic Moments of Enlightenment

When I am not ‘on duty’ with the souls in the Home who need care and help (and even then I make use of the Light!) I will myself into Light, asking that Light may be afforded me, that my soul and spirit may become as one infused Light; that I may live and move in the Light which is the Creative Will.

This is a wonderful, thrilling experience. When I caught but a glimpse of Light on earth, and it uplifted and changed me, and changed also the direction of my life, (1) that impermanent glimpse was as nothing to the immersion of Light that is possible here. I appear to lie in my garden, yet in the power of this Light, my mind and spirit stretch out into a glorious extension. I become conscious (in only partially) of the world beyond, the world of thought, (2) even beyond thought into Being. (Frances Banks, TOL, 72.)

(1) Banks is referring to an experience of enlightenment on earth. Her description suggests what Hindus call “spiritual awakening” and what Buddhists call “stream-entering.”
(2) I.e., the Mental Plane.

I cannot hope even to transmit the enveloping peace, the sense of tranquil being that envelopes one with this transition of consciousness. It is the breakthrough for which I longed when on earth and which I only experienced in infinitesimal moments of Union. It is the Reality of Being. It is joy beyond words. It is in truth an ecstacy of living, of being a live, alert Self in a world of Live and Glorious Selves within a consciousness of a Great Creative Self. I cannot express this feeling of Inner Spirit more clearly.

And I must add that I am but a tyro yet in achieving even this measure of consciousness. Neither can I hold it indefinitely at my present stage of evolution. Perhaps the intensity of it would, so to speak, burn me up until I am attuned to this stepped-up frequency of vibration. It is intense joy, unqualified bliss, the aim and acme of all the struggles to discover the Spirit. (Frances Banks, TOL, 123.)

I had been subjected to a series of treatments by a machine which works on the principle of microwaves, which had built up my vibrations to the correct pitch and had calmed down the mind after the psychic trauma of my life. With a great surge of emotion I knew then that there was no [more] sorrow, no more tears, and no more / suffering and that I was in God’s kingdom at last. (Donald Macleod in HT, 16-7.)

Yes, I have seen angels, if by angels you mean spiritual beings who have never dwelt as men upon the earth.

Shall I tell you of one whom I call the Beautiful Being? If it has a name in heaven, I have not heard it. Is the Beautiful Being man or woman? Sometimes it seems to be one, sometimes the other. …

For the moment I had escaped the clutches of Time, and was living in that etheric quietude which is merely the activity of rapture raised to the last degree. I must have been enjoying a foretaste of that paradoxical state which the wise ones of the East call Nirvana. …

Standing before me was the Beautiful Being, radiant in its own light. Had it been less lovely I might have gasped with wonder; but the very perfection of its form and presence diffused an atmosphere of calm. I marvelled not, because the state of my consciousness was marvel. I was lifted so far above the commonplace that I had no standard by which to measure the experience of that moment.

Imagine youth immortalised, the fleeting made eternal. Imagine the bloom of a child’s face and the eyes of the ages of knowledge. Imagine the brilliancy of a thousand lives concentrated in those eyes, and the smile upon the lips of a love so pure that it asks no answering love from those it smiles upon.

But the language of earth cannot describe the unearthly, nor could the understanding of a man grasp in a moment those joys which the Beautiful Being revealed to me in that hour of supreme life. For the possibilities of existence have been widened for me, the meanings of the soul have deepened. Those who behold the Beautiful Being are never the same again as they were before. They may forget for a time, and lose in the business of living the magic of that presence; but whenever they do remember, they are caught up again on the wings of the former rapture.

It may happen to one who is living upon the earth; (1) it may happen to one in the spaces between the stars; but the experience must be the same when it comes to all; for only to one in the state in which it dwells could the Beautiful Being reveal itself at all. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XXXV.)

(1) The sight of an angel can in and of itself be enlightening. The best case that I am aware of is that of Alfred Lord Tennyson, see here.

An Encounter with a Saint

One day I was walking on a mountain top. I say "walking," for it seemed about the same, though it takes but little energy to walk here.

    On the mountain top I saw a man standing alone. He was looking out and far away, but I could not see what he was looking at. He was abstracted and communing with himself, or with some presence of which I was unaware.

    I waited for some time. At last, drawing a long breath—for we breathe here—he turned his eyes to me and said, with a kind smile:

    "Can I do anything for you, brother?"

    I was embarrassed for a moment, feeling that I might have intruded upon some sweet communion.

    "If I am not too bold in asking," I said, "would you tell me what you were thinking as you stood there looking into space?"

    I was conscious of my presumption; but being so determined to learn what can be known, if sometimes I am too bold in making inquiries, I feel that my very earnestness may win for me the forgiveness of those I question.

    This man had a beautiful beardless face and young-looking eyes; but his garments were the ordinary garments of one who thinks little or nothing of his appearance. That very unconsciousness of the outer form may sometimes give it a peculiar majesty.

    He looked at me in silence for a moment; then he said:

    "I was trying to draw near to God."

    "And what is God?" I asked; "and where is God?"

    He smiled. I never saw a smile like his, as he answered.

    "God is everywhere. God is."

    "What is He?" I persisted; and again he repeated, but with a different emphasis:

    "God is."

    "What do you mean?" I asked.

    "God is, God is," he said.

I do not know how his meaning was conveyed to me, perhaps by sympathy; but it suddenly flashed into my mind that when he said, "God is," he expressed the completest realisation of God which is possible to the spirit; and when he said, "God is," he meant me to understand that there was no being, nothing that is, except God.

There must have been in my face a reflection of what I felt, for the saint then said to me:

"Do you not also know that He is, and that all that is is He?"

    "I am beginning to feel what you mean," I answered, "though I doubtless feel but a little of it."

    He smiled, and made no reply; but my mind was full of questions.

    "When you were on earth," I said, "did you think much about God?"

   "Always. I thought of little else. I sought Him everywhere, but seemed only at times to get flashes of consciousness as to what He really was. Sometimes when praying, for I prayed much, there would come to me suddenly the question, 'To what are you praying?' And I would answer aloud, 'To God, to God!' But though I prayed to Him every day for years, only occasionally did I get a flash of that true consciousness of God.

“Finally, one day when I was alone in the woods, there came the great revelation. It came not in any form of words, but rather in a wordless and formless wonder, too vast for the limitation of thought. I fell upon the ground and must have lost consciousness, for after a while—how long a time I do not know—I awoke, and got up and looked about me. Then gradually I remembered the experience which had been too big for me while I was feeling it.

    "I could put into the form of words the realisation which had been too much for my mortality to bear, and the words I used to myself were, 'All that is is God.' It seemed very simple, yet is was far from simple. 'All that is is God.' That must include me and all my fellow beings, human and animal; even the trees and the birds and the rivers must be a part of God, if God were all that is.

    "From that moment life assumed a new meaning for me. I could not see a human face without remembering the revelation—that that human being I saw was a part of God. When my dog looked at me, I said to him aloud, 'You are a part of God.' When I stood beside a river and listened to the sound of its waters, I said to myself, 'I am listening to the voice of God.' When a fellow being was angry with me, I asked myself, 'In what way have I offended God?' When one spoke lovingly to me, I said, 'God is loving me now,' and the realisation nearly took my breath away. Life became unbelievably beautiful.

    "Therefore I had been so absorbed in God, in trying to find God, that I had not given much thought to my fellow beings, and had even neglected those nearest me; but from that day I began to mingle with my human brethren. I found that as more and more I sought God in them, more and more God responded to me through them. And life became still more wonderful.

    "Sometimes I tried to tell others what I felt, but they did not always understand me. It was thus I began to realise that God had purposely, for some reason of His own, covered Himself with veils. Was it that He might have the pleasure of tearing them away? If so, I would help Him all I could. So I tried to make other men grasp the knowledge of God which I myself had attained.

“For years I taught men. At first I wanted to teach everybody; but I soon came to see that that was impossible, and so I selected a few who called themselves my disciples. They did not always tell the world that they were my disciples, because I asked them not to do so. But I urged each of them to give to someone as much as possible of the knowledge that I had given to him. And so I think that many have come to feel a little of the wonder which was revealed to me that day alone in the woods, when I awoke to the knowledge that God is, God is."

    Then the saint turned and left me, with all my questions unanswered. I wanted to ask him when and how he had left the earth, and what work he was doing out here—but he was gone!

    Perhaps I shall see him again some day. But whether I do or not, he has given me something which I in turn give to you, as he himself desired to give it to the world. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter .)

Seeking Guidance from Above

Whenever we are perplexed about anything—and I speak just of our own immediate circle—we go up to the top of some building, or hill, or some high place where the surrounding country may be viewed from a distance. Then we state our difficulties, and when we have made the tale complete, we preserve silence for a time and endeavour to retreat into ourselves, as it were. After a time we begin to see and hear on a higher plane than ours, and those things which matter, we find, are those which are shown to us, by sight and hearing, as persisting / on that higher plane, in those higher spheres. But the things which do not matter so greatly we do not see nor hear, and thus we are able to separate the one class from the other. (G. Vale Owen’s mother in LBV1, 64-5.)

Preparing to Ascend

Visits to Higher Realms – See here.

Pondering Leaving the Astral

I am still using my emotional (astral) body. I haven’t cast that off. I was not a highly emotional person, ever. I was quite practical, but you will be surprised what levels of the emotional body you retain with you when you pass over. If they have been a part of you, one retains compassion and love, understanding, a listening ear, and a certain amount of attention to detail. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 51.)

Progress is as open here, more so indeed, and as satisfying in reward as any success on the earth plane. One has only to have a glimpse of the Planes of Mind, (1) where emotions have been conquered and transmuted into aspiration, to realize the wonder of Creation and the Love of God for His creatures. (Frances Banks, TOL, 88.)

(1) I.e., the Mental Plane.

When this has, at last, been accomplished, even to some small measure, I know that I shall be allowed to proceed onwards towards my soul’s desire; that is, to become a pupil in the outer courts, to mingle with those of great and exalted Minds, to listen to Truths propounded by Masters and Teachers of Wisdom, to imbibe such wisdom and to have my soul opened to the eternal Realities. Nothing stops one from doing what one wishes here … except one’s own inadequacies. (Frances Banks, TOL, 75.)

I stated that no progress was made in Illusion-land. (1) This is, in a sense, incorrect. No seeming progress is made. Illusion-land is the dream of the earth-personality. For a short while after his entry into that state the soul is at peace, warring desires are quiescent; but they wake again at the time the dream is beginning to break. In fact, when these furies are roused they themselves break and shatter the dream. (Frederick W.H. Myers, RTI, n.p.)

(1) Myers calls the Astral Plane “illusion-land.” In truth, all planes are illusions. The only reality is the Formless. Thus, wherever Myers is remains an illusory plane.

Eventually the collective desire for progression shatters [the] community-life [of the astral plane]. The units that sustain it seek either the way back to the earth or choose the more difficult path that leads to Eidos, the Fourth level of consciousness. (1) (F.W.H. Myers, BHP, n.d.)

(1) “Eidos” is Myers’ name for the first subplane of the Mental Plane or the “First Heaven.”

I am told that, when the time comes to pass on from this sphere to a higher one, a similar process [to physical death] takes place. (1) But as there is no dust or decay here, the elements that compose the vehicle of expression in which we now function are simply absorbed back into the ether. We shall again find ourselves in a yet more refined body on a higher plane of consciousness. This process continues until ultimate perfection is achieved. (Ethel McLean in LFM, 84)

(1) I.e., the Second Death.

Contact with Earth Not Easy Past the Summerlands

I have reached a stage of consciousness where I am aware of a great difference between my rate of living and the tempo of all my activities and those of men still on earth, but taking one’s experience in working with a medium as a guide, I find that I can only with difficulty slow down my rate to work with a mind still subject to earth conditions. It is tedious and fatiguing and sometimes I think nearly impossible, but it can just be done. At a higher stage I imagine that a word-for-word communication would become impracticable and there would have to be just a swift interchange of thought. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 96.)

I can and may continue to be united with you as long as I do not advance to higher regions, (1) but I still have time left. (Sigwart, BOTR, 21.)

(1) As it turned out, Sigwart rapidly ascended to the Mental Plane.

When you get beyond the third sphere (1) contact becomes more difficult, and it is only when you begin to feel "impersonal" and have no direct interest / left in people on the earth-plane that you desire to go on. (Claude Kelway-Bamber in CB, 49-50.)

(1) The third sphere, as Claude means it, most likely denotes the Higher Summerlands.

Many other things I have not told you, for I can only come occasionally now.

After a time I shall probably cease to come altogether. Not that I shall have lost interest in you; but it seems to be the plan that I shall get farther away from the world, to learn things which necessitate for their comprehension a certain loosening of the earthly tie. Later I may return again, for the second time; but I make no promises. I will come if I can, and if it seems wise to come, and if you are in a mood to let me. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XLVI.)

I do not believe that I shall come through anybody else—at least, not to write letters like this. I should probably have to put such another person through the same training process that I put you through, and few—even of those who were my friends and associates—would trust me to that extent. So, even after I am gone, do not shut the door too tight, in case I should want to come again, for I might have something immensely important to say.

But on the other hand, please refrain from calling me; because if you should call me you might draw me away from important work or study somewhere else. I do not say for certain that you could, but it is possible; and when I leave the neighbourhood of the earth of my own accord, I do not wish to be drawn back until I am ready to return. (Judge David P. Hatch, LLDM, Letter XLVI.)

When, indeed, the intelligence proceeds on its journey to Eidos (1) it makes a definite break with the material world; and few who have passed that way return to speak to men. (F.W.H. Myers in BHP, n.p.)

(1) The first subplane of the Mental Plane.

Usually [the average man] is like a blind puppy after birth. He writes of what he cannot see. When perception comes to him, when sight is bestowed on the eyes of his soul, he does not, so far as I am aware, look towards the earth again. He feels his own mental impecuniosity. He has not the power to express in words, which he must borrow from earth minds, the amazing character of life after death. So he is silenced, and no echo comes from behind the dark curtain which will even faintly convey the music of that other life, yield to man the strange rhythm of a universe within a universe, a life within a life, and all lying, as ships in harbour, within the infinite imagination of God. (F.W.H. Myers in RTI, n.p.)

People who Live in Two Realms

It is sometimes the case that people dwell in certain realms here, when, by virtue of spiritual progress, they are entitled to live in a higher one. … Some may elect to abide here for purely private reasons, reasons of affection between two individuals. It may transpire that two people, between whom there is a strong bond, might belong to different planes of progression and therefore inhabit different realms. In such cases it is not uncommon for the one entitled to live in the higher realm to remain with the one who has not yet advanced until such time as the latter has progressed and, then, together the two mount to their new realm and continue unseparated. That’s one instance.

There’s another and I believe more common one and that is where a certain occupation keeps people so absorbed they prefer to work in the less high realm. Our friend Radiant Wing is such a case. They are working for humanity still incarnate, … and although they spend a great deal of time here in these regions, yet they constantly travel to their own homes in the higher realms and so they are residents of both realms. They’re leading double lives! …

And thousands of folk on earth are leading double lives too, if it comes to that. Their waking time [is] spent on earth and their sleeping time spent in the spirit world. There’s a grand meeting of friends and relatives that way. (Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, MALIWU, 125-6.)

Sloughing Off the Astral

When a person has fulfilled his purpose and development on the astral plane, he may then proceed permanently to enter the mental plane and the higher planes, in succession, to work and develop more fully there. In that case, the astral body is cast off, as is the physical body at death, and its particles disintegrate to be reused in the creative processes. However, a person who has gone into the higher planes in this way can still communicate through to earth and can still manifest himself in the astral plane through materialization. (A.D. Mattson, WOB, 45.)

I am like a creature hibernating and yet, at the same time, sloughing off a skin which I no longer will be needing. I feel, sometimes, like a snake gradually shedding its skin. These coils of lower density are slipping away from me. I am emerging from regrets of earth memories, from disillusions, from idealizations which become illusions, ephemeral and of no true worth. I am viewing each piece of skin which peels off from me in its right connection with the true Self which it served to obscure. And more and more I become thankful for the Reality which, God be praised, was there beneath the skin, all the time. (Frances Banks, TOL, 124.)

I realize that what is passing from me, like sloughing a skin, is insubstantial, impermanent, decomposing, as it drops from me into a dusty nothingness. What is left is essentially Light, is Reality, is permanent and is true. I call this my new Body of Light and that, indeed, is what it truly is. A Body of Light, not dense and material and dull and heavy as the physical body, not insubstantial, shadowy and unreal as the astral body in which I have been sheltering, but brilliant, ‘encelled’ with Light, ethereal in that there is no weight, no dragging down into matter but is enmeshed with colour and beauty and form and substance.

Is that a difficult conception? You must remember that I am forming this, my spiritual Body, or should I be more correct in saying I am merging into it. That sounds a paradox but then much to which I am becoming adjusted here is paradoxical when viewed in the light of the restricted thinking of the human mind. I still have a mind, I still have a body, but both are inevitably changing and because of that I feel as if I am emerging, like a grub from a chrysalis, to a butterfly. Gradually I can function more readily and for deeper periods in my Body of Light, and, in it, can commune with more advanced Souls and imbibe their wisdom. (Frances Banks, TOL, 124.)

I am trying to function more and more in the Body of Light. I cannot sustain it for long yet, but I have the joy and bliss of the certainty of a further expansion which is available to us all. This is the next step in progression, the stepping out of illusion into the consciousness of the functioning of the Higher Self, an emergence into a wider consciousness and an awareness of Spiritual Beings and of Forces from the All-Creative Mind of God. This is a gradual process and may take years (in earth consciousness of time) to fulfill. I feel as though I am starting on a Path of Light which leads upwards and onwards into Realms of unimaginable beauty and wonder and of which I have, as yet, but the faintest glimmer of comprehension. The journey itself is compensation enough for the trials of earth existence and for the emotion of judgment in action of those trials and my individual response to them, from which judgement I am now emerging. (Frances Banks, TOL, 125.)

"The timelessness of our life,” [Dr. G. said to T.E. Lawrence], “misleads us into thinking that there is no longer any period to our happiness. We have no lengthening shadow of old age to put a natural limit to our activities and so, when we are happy and easy, we think it can continue indefinitely.

"But I know there are natural period in our time here and that I am approaching one of them. I could perhaps disregard the intimations and stay on here [in the Astral Plane], but, if I did so, I should be perverting the pattern. So you see, even this paradise may be enjoyed for too long lest it thwart one's proper growth. ...

“I am growing old in this [astral] body and shall soon be done with it. Then I shall go on to explore this wonderful universe on another level [i.e., the Mental Plane]." (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 76.)

[As Dr. G. spoke,] the illumination of his wise spirit made a glory around him and was more convincing than many words. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 76.)

I had heard about this second death and transition to the next sphere.... Now it seems that I may be privileged to watch it happening to another. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 77.)

The end came suddenly. I called on him and was told that he was sleeping. We stood around and watched his still form and the light which waxed and waned there. In a breathtaking second the change came. The light gathered itself together and burnt itself to a keen thought of light so intense and inward that we gasped and turned aside. Then it had gone and only a wraith of our friend remained which shrank away and disappeared as we watched.

We sat speechless, absorbed in the beauty and meaning of the transition. It was long before anyone broke the silence and then one said: 'I have heard that some time is needed for a spirit to get used to the new conditions, just as we needed time to adjust when we first came here, so we must not expect our friend to come to us yet. I suggest that when an interval has elapsed we should meet here again and wait and hope for his coming.' We agreed to do this and went off full of thought to our various occupations. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 78-9.) Dr. G. has kept his promise to come to us but he appeared when we were least expecting him. Some few of us were sitting quietly talking when his voice suddenly took up the parable and as we looked up, startled, we saw the outlines of a form which speedily filled in and took substance and there he was among us again.

He brought with him an exalted air and we felt his presence as a spiritual baptism, a stream of pure joy absorbed hungrily by our thirsty beings. Light and happiness glowed up in us too with the pleasure of heightened being. He stayed only a short while ... and left us again. (T.E. Lawrence, PMJ, 83.)

The Astral Body Fights Back

Some are content to stay [here], thinking no doubt that this is the final stage. There must, of course, come a time in the soul’s awakening when that belief is proved false. (Frances Banks, TOL, 64.)

For the last five or six centuries, you have been living at a rate of vibration that devours your astral, or emotional, energy. …

Why should it surprise you, then, that when you begin elevating the vibrations of that very potent body of yours, the astral refuses to surrender the little modicum of independence it has been able to gain? It is going to fight for its very existence, good brother! And this is the reason for the doubts that flood your mind. The astral has been a good and faithful saddle-horse which is now being put out to grass because a new and much more powerful horse is being groomed to replace it in the stable. Of course it wants to object, and it does! The best way to control it is to make sure that every order it receive sis correctly given and is absolutely necessary for the ultimate good of all concerned. Once these doubts are silenced, you can begin to see the wood in spite of the trees. (Mike Swain to his father, Jasper, FMW, 86.)

An Ascension Ceremony

We will tell you of a scene which we witnessed not long ago. Yes, a scene in this land of ours. We were told that a ceremony was about to take place in a certain wide plain not far from our home, at which we might be present. It was the ceremony of initiation of one who had passed the gate of what we will call prejudice, that is, of prejudice against those who were not of his own particular way of learning, and who was about to go forth into a wider and fuller sphere of usefulness.

We went, as we were bidden, and found a great many people arriving from many quarters. Some came in… why do you hesitate? We are describing quite literally what we saw — chariots; call them otherwise, if you will. They were drawn by horses, and their drivers seemed to know just what to say to them, for they were not driven with reins like they are on earth, but seemed to go where the drivers willed. Some came on foot and some through space by aerial flight. No, not wings, which are not necessary.

When they had all gathered, a circle was made, and one stepped out, the one who was to be initiated, and he wore a robe of orange colour, but bright, not like the colour as you know it; none of our colours are; but we have to speak to you in our old tongue. The one who had had him in his care then took him by the hand and placed him on a green knoll near the Middle of the clear space, and prayed. And then a very beautiful thing occurred.

The sky seemed to intensify in colour—blue and / gold mostly—and out of it descended a veil-like cloud, but which seemed to be made up of fine lace-work, and the figures dominating were birds and flowers—not white, but all golden and radiant. This slowly expanded and settled on the two, and then they seemed to become part of it, and it of them, and, as it slowly faded away, it left both more beautiful than before—permanently beautiful, for both had been advanced into a higher sphere of light. (G. Vail Owen’s mother in LBV1, 40-1.)

Nor was the jewel lacking. When the cloud cleared, or dissolved, we saw it on the brow of the initiate, gold and red, and his guide, who had one already, wore his on his shoulder—left shoulder—and we noticed it had increased in size and brightness. I do not know how this happens, but have an idea, not definite enough to tell you, however, and it is difficult to explain what we ourselves understand. When the ceremony was over we all separated to our own work again. It was longer than I have described and had a very heartening effect on the rest of us. (G. Vale Owen’s mother in LBV1, 42.)

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